Cambodia is one of only four countries in the Asia Pacific that has significantly reduced its HIV infection rate through a wide reaching prevention programme targeting sex workers and their customers, UNAIDS said ahead of an international conference on AIDS in the region in Busan, South Korea.
UNAIDS also said the number of people receiving life saving antiretroviral treatment in the region had tripled since 2006, with Cambodia being only one among eight countries in the world to provide antiretroviral medicines to more than 80 percent of those who need them.
stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and populations at higher risk of infection remain rife
In its report, “HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero”, it said that although the region had seen a 20 percent drop in new infections since 2001 and a threefold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy since 2006, progress was threatened by a lack of focus on key high risk groups and insufficient funding.
The high risk groups are sex workers and their customers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men. “Across the region, stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and populations at higher risk of infection remain rife,” UNAIDS said.
“About 90 percent of the countries in the region retain punitive laws and policies that effective prevent people living with HIV and key populations from accessing life-saving HIV services,” the report said.
It also warned that funding cutbacks from international donors threaten the region’s progress.
“In 2009, international assistance for the global AIDS response levelled off for the first time in a decade and in 2010 it declined. Only 20 percent of expenditures on HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia focused on prevention among key populations at higher risk of infection.”