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UN hails progress in HIV/AIDS campaign

UN hails progress in HIV/AIDS campaign

CAMBODIA received an award from the United Nations in New York yesterday for “outstanding leadership, commitment and progress” towards halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The percentage of Cambodians infected with HIV has dropped from 2 percent of adults aged 15-49 in 1998 to a projected 0.7 percent this year, according to a statement issued by the UN on Friday.

“Cambodia has been consistently investing in addressing the epidemic since several years ago,” said Savina Ammassari, the acting country coordinator for UNAIDS in Cambodia. “This has been done with determination.”

Ammassari said Cambodia’s focus on the people most at-risk – including sex workers, men who have sex with men and injection drug users – had been critical to the country’s successes so far. But she warned against complacency, adding that one in four injection drug users remain HIV positive.

“If we do not sustain efforts at this critical juncture, we might see a resurgence of the epidemic,” she said.

Cambodia provided anti-retroviral treatment to 92 percent of people with AIDS in 2009, according to the UN. Around 90 percent of all funds spent to combat HIV in Cambodia are from outside donors.

Officials at the National AIDS Authority were unavailable for comment yesterday.

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