Half a million condoms will be distributed during the Water Festival on November 10-12 to coincide with a National Aids Authority (NAA) campaign focused on intravenous drug users and the gay community, National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD deputy-director Hor Bun-Leng told The Post.
Bun-Leng encouraged the public to drop by Chroy Changvar Park, Wat Phnom Park or Koh Pich island to have their blood drawn for quick screening and to receive a free condom.
Over 300,000 condoms were handed out as a part of the same initiative during last year’s Water Festival.
“We aren’t distributing the condoms to be used, rather the goal is to increase awareness of their benefits and to inform people to take precautions during sex. We hope that the public will learn about [HIV/AIDS] and understand that condoms can prevent transmission.
“Children transform into youths every year. So we have to launch new campaigns to reach them,” Bun-Leng said.
Some 800 people aged between 15 and 49 were diagnosed with HIV/AIDs in 2019 – an increase of more than 40 per cent from 2017, said official NAA figures released in August.
Bun-Leng said Cambodia could bring the situation under control shortly with an increased focus on sex workers, gay people and drug victims.
“We almost have the situation completely under control, but we [the NAA] are concerned about transmission within the gay community and drug users, so we will continue our efforts and are determined to eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2025,” she said.
Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (Khana) director Choub Sok Chamroeun said that as long as the right steps are taken, HIV/AIDS could be managed among the general population within a generation.
“New cases are mostly found among homosexual people when a man makes love to a younger man. My organisation found [on average] one person each day fitting this profile,” Chamroeum said.
Chamroeun said Khana was planning on collaborating with the NAA to share information on the disease through literature and other educational materials during the Water Festival.
“Festival revellers will be able to read our booklets and learn about HIV/AIDS in consultations and counselling services during the Water Festival. We will also conduct blood tests over the three days,” Chamroeun said.