The National AIDS Authority (NAA), NGO partners and relevant institutions are preparing a draft of the national strategic plan for the eradication of AIDS in Cambodia.
The move is in line with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call for a movement to end AIDS in the Kingdom by 2025, five years before the global commitment.
Speaking at a July 25 technical meeting held to prepare the draft, NAA secretary-general Chhim Khin Dareth said the plan would aim to prevent new HIV infections among the LGBT community.
He said men who have sex with men (MSM) were the group of most concern. They have a high prevalence of infections, with four per cent of the Kingdom’s estimated 90,000 MSM being HIV positive. This compared to a rate of 0.5 per cent for the general population. According to research, condom use in this group remains low.
“Solving this issue requires the participation of all institutions, organisations and partners to educate people living with HIV. Those who suspect they have been exposed to infection should get tested as soon as possible. In Cambodia, the tests and treatment are free of charge.
Seng Por Srourn, project manager at KHANA who also attended the meeting, told The Post that the draft was well prepared. It was a comprehensive document, thank to the participation and input of many stakeholders across multiple sectors of Cambodia. Through this plan, the fight against HIV/AIDS in Cambodia will be further enhanced and he expected the disease to be completely eradicated in the future.
Por Srourn admitted that there are challenges that could not be eliminated easily. Funding to combat the disease has been reduced in recent years, while there are more than 10,000 people living with HIV in Cambodia. It requires a strong effort to find these people and make sure they are undergoing treatment, so there would not be new infections.
“We have to try something new to find them, but launching new initiatives is not easy. Think of it as a river – catching a specific group of fish among the population of a river is very difficult. It requires participation from all stakeholders, and if donors reduce their funding then we face additional challenges,” he said.
On Cambodia’s plans to end HIV/AIDS cases by 2025, Por Srourn was sceptical that this was possible, due to the Covid-19 situation. KHANA, he said, is currently identifying three new cases a day.
In 2021, the organisation found more than 800 people with HIV. In just the first six months of this year, it had discovered 608 cases. They are now being treated and further testing is being carried out, he added.