Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona urged all artists and performers to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS at every event during the upcoming Water Festival as the world prepares to mark World AIDS Day 2019 on December 1 under the theme Communities Make the Difference.
Sackona issued a ministry letter on Tuesday informing directors of institutions and the departments of Culture and Fine Arts at the municipal and provincial levels to urge all artists to include an educational message on HIV and AIDS during events such as concerts.
He said in the context of multi-participation, the ministry had a role to play by assisting the National AIDS Authority (NAA) to promote HIV and AIDS education at all Water Festival events and on World AIDS Day.
NAA secretary-general Chhim Khindareth told The Post on Wednesday that the large numbers of people attending the Water Festival presented a valuable opportunity.
“We regularly disseminate information about the prevention of HIV and AIDS. But with so many people coming to enjoy the Water Festival and a lot of boat racers, we have to cooperate with our partners to use this opportunity to educate the public.
“They will also be provided condoms so they can remain careful while they are far away from their families,” he said.
Khindareth said that although Cambodia had achieved the 95-95-95 goal – 95 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 95 per cent of people knowing their status on treatment, and 95 per cent of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads – which showed that the Kingdom could control the spread of HIV/AIDS, challenges remained for target groups such as homosexual men and people having sex with prostitutes.
Nonetheless, he noted that the infection rate was estimated to decrease by 0.5 per cent this year.
The NAA said in August that more than 800 people tested positive for human HIV last year, joining over 76,000 others aged between 15 and 49 in the Kingdom already infected with the virus, with the epidemic particularly prevalent among the LGBTQ community.
The NAA held its second plenary session of the year at the Vimean Mittapheap Meeting Hall at the Office of the Council of Ministers. It was aimed at assessing the current status, reviewing the achievements in fighting HIV/AIDS, and discussing the introduction of a multi-sector policy for the first six months of next year.
NAA chairman Ieng Moly said the government is committed to eliminating AIDS by setting the “three zeros” goals – no new HIV infections, no discrimination against people living with HIV and no one dying of AIDS by 2020.
He said that only by joining together with a clear vision and real hope could we move towards eliminating HIV/AIDS.
Therefore, he stressed his ongoing appeal to all citizens to protect themselves and act responsibly to help prevent the spread of HIV.
“With the regular and proper use of condoms, and by going for a blood test if you suspect you have contracted HIV, we can make inroads.
“Don’t be discouraged if the blood test is positive showing that you have contracted HIV, please get medical treatment immediately as instructed by the doctor,” he said.