Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - HIV discoverer praises Cambodia

HIV discoverer praises Cambodia

Françoise Barre-Sinoussi (centre) with Luc Montagnier (left) and Jean-Claude Chermann in their lab in Paris in 1984
Françoise Barre-Sinoussi (centre) with Luc Montagnier (left) and Jean-Claude Chermann in their lab in Paris in 1984. The three French scientists helped discover the relationship between HIV and AIDS. AFP

HIV discoverer praises Cambodia

French virologist Françoise Barre-Sinoussi, winner of a Nobel Prize in Medicine for identifying HIV as the cause of AIDS during the 1980s, holds a soft spot for Cambodia.

“My relationship with Cambodia has been ongoing for the last 20 years,” Barre-Sinoussi said with a smile.

Speaking to the Post on the sidelines of a conference on communicable diseases held in the capital this week, Barre-Sinoussi highlighted the importance of increasing patient access to life-saving treatment and encouraging young Cambodians to pursue a career in medical research and clinical work.

“I spoke with students at the University of Health Sciences [this week] because I wanted to motivate them to become clinical specialists and researchers. It’s nice if you want to make money and open a private consultation, but why not work to link researchers and clinical specialists to benefit humanity as a whole,” she said.

“If a dialogue between clinicians and researchers had not been under way in the 1980s for the first time, we would never have linked HIV to AIDS when we did.”

Barre-Sinoussi is head of the Retroviral Infection Control Unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where she has worked since the 1970s.

The extent to which Cambodia had responded to its HIV problem is something the country should be proud of, she said.

“This health system was nothing after the war and has now become something worth talking about.

“Something like 90 per cent of [HIV/AIDS] patients are receiving treatment and that’s a significant number for this part of the world,” Barre-Sinoussi said, while adding that there is still plenty of work to be done.

UNAIDS country director Marie-Odile Emond said Cambodia’s coverage rate for treatment is well above the regional rate.

“Cambodia has reached a much higher level at about 80 per cent and with [a] relatively good retention rate,” she wrote in an email.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government denies claims former Thai PM Yingluck issued Cambodian passport

    Government officials on Thursday denied claims that a Cambodian passport was issued to former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who reportedly used it to register a company in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong-based English language South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Wednesday reported Hong Kong

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading