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HIV success leads region

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:

Cambodia is ahead of every country in Asia and the Pacific for the coverage of its treatment against HIV, the United Nations says.

A UNAIDS report published yesterday found that 57,000 people living with HIV in the country were accessing antiretroviral therapy, representing 80 percent of all people estimated to be infected.

The figure is the biggest ever and the highest HIV treatment coverage for Asia and the Pacific.

The UN hailed the result as a huge achievement for a country that had one of the fastest-growing AIDS epidemics in the region 20 years ago.

The government has made ending AIDS a top public health priority. It has decentralised HIV services that are now available even in remote rural areas.

Last year, the country adopted a strategy to treat everyone as soon as they were diagnosed with HIV.

Teng Kunthy, secretary-general of the National AIDS Authority, said the achievement was due to efforts by the government and NGOs to provide services in local areas.

“We have done a good job of providing HIV treatment and we are committed to continuing it,” he said.

The UN has set targets known as 90-90-90. This means that by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status. By the same time, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

The 90-90-90 goal translates into 73 percent of people living with HIV being virally suppressed, a figure Cambodia has already reached before completing all three 90-90-90 targets, according to the UNAIDS. Only six other countries have done the same.

“Cambodia is to be congratulated for reaching this global target three years before the world’s deadline,” said Vladanka Andreeva, UNAIDS Cambodia country director. “This shows that the country’s strong leadership, commitment and engagement with communities is having phenomenal results.”

AIDS claimed a million lives in 2016, almost half the 2005 toll that marked the peak of the deadly epidemic, according to the UN.

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