Cambodia was recognised for having a treatment rate of over 99 per cent for HIV-positive persons, which is the highest rate in the Asia Pacific region. As of the second quarter of this year, there were 63,610 HIV-positive patients receiving anti-viral therapies free of charge from state-run hospitals, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The premier made the remarks in a letter marking World AIDS Day on December 1, saying that HIV-positive persons in Cambodia were considered one of the vulnerable groups eligible for government social assistance.

The letter was issued on the day set aside to globally unite people and demonstrate their commitment to effectively curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“I celebrate the achievements of our Kingdom in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS. There are several points for which Cambodia was recognised for having the highest rate of coverage for treatment care services for HIV-positive persons in the Asia-Pacific region. Our rates are higher than those of much larger countries such as China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, among others,” Hun Sen said.

He added that the National AIDS Authority (NAA) had collaborated with the Ministry of Planning to revise the procedures to allow all HIV-positive persons who have not yet received social assistance to be eligible for National Social Security Fund (NSSF) cards or IDPoor cards.

Hun Sen also appealed to relevant ministries and institutions to try to reach an estimated 11,000 HIV-positive persons who have not yet come forward to receive treatment services.

He said the relevant institutions in the capital and provinces, towns, districts and communes have to play a leading role as coordinators of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes among key populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and “entertainment club attendants”.

“We must more effectively carry out these activities to hit the 95-95-95 targets by 2025. We have to promote the availability of quality and efficient services for the treatment, testing and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” Hun Sen stated.

He also appealed to international partner organisations to help support the strengthening of the national health system through the continued provision of financial and technical assistance to respond to HIV/AIDS in coordination with the NAA.

“I appeal to all ministries and institutions ... to work together and closely cooperate with the Cambodian Red Cross [CRC], NGOs, civil society organisations, the private sector, HIV/AIDS-positive persons, key groups and communities to stamp out HIV/AIDS infection and overcome the virus on schedule,” Hun Sen emphasised.

NAA deputy head Teng Kunthy said on November 24 that promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS remains crucial.

“The problem of the spread of HIV/AIDS is a global one and it is relevant to daily living activities. So, it requires the people across the globe to learn about this problem on a regular basis,” he added.

He said some recent studies indicated that in Cambodia, knowledge about HIV/AIDS seemed to be on the decline, especially when the country was faced with the problem of Covid-19, while the HIV situation seemed to have improved.

Citing the NAA, he said the number of new infections stood at 1,100 annually and that this was still too high and Cambodia was not satisfied with that number.

“Most new infections are young people, so our young people have to seek to understand the problem of HIV/AIDS clearly,” Kunthy stated.