The National AIDS Authority during a gathering to mark World AIDS Day in Phnom Penh yesterday reported a drop in the number of cases of workplace discrimination against people living with HIV in the Kingdom.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day was “Together, join as a national stream in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS”. About 700 government officials, NGO representatives, foreign diplomats and patients attended.
NAA chairman Ieng Mouly said the Kingdom is making progress in making citizens more aware about the disease.
“Discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS is in decline,” Mr Mouly said. “Joblessness [among people living with HIV/AIDS] is down from 46 percent in 2010 to about two percent in 2019.”
“Please consider people living with HIV as victims and family members,” he added. “Join together to eliminate discrimination…and continue to support them.”
Thuon Sarim, a person living with HIV/AIDS, yesterday said workplace discrimination against people carrying the virus used to be a lot worse two decades ago.
“My husband died in 2000 and I found out I had the disease while I was pregnant with my fifth child,” she said, noting midwives were afraid to help her deliver due to fear the virus would spread.
“I was discriminated by people in my community,” Ms Sarim said. “About 20 years ago, neighbours would burn beds used by HIV patients.”
Mr Mouly said HIV/AIDS last year killed more than 1,300 people in the Kingdom, a drop when compared to 2,500 deaths in 2010.
He said the Kingdom plans to eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2025, but the government will need to raise $20 million per year.
Pauline Tamesis, resident coordinator of the United Nations Development Programme, yesterday highlighted Cambodia’s progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Ms Tamesis said two decades ago Cambodia experienced a fast-growing HIV epidemic but was able to make significant progress since then.
“Today, there are an estimated 73,000 people living with HIV in Cambodia, 81 percent of them are on lifesaving treatment and 78 percent are virally suppressed,” she said.
“Despite these immense achievements, the AIDS epidemic is not yet over,” she added. “HIV continues to affect key populations more than others. These include female entertainment workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and transgender people.”
Ms Tamesis said the Kingdom needs strong political leadership and partnerships with communities of people living with HIV.
“The more we invest in communities, the closer we get to end the AIDS epidemic,” she said.