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Australia backs HIV/AIDS reduction

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Australia back HIV/AIDS reduction Article from Vientiane Times
Author: Meuangkham Noradeth
Published: 17/09/2009
Newspaper section: International Cooperation


Injecting drug users are one source of the spread of HIV/AIDS in Laos.

As part of its plan to limit the spread of the disease the Lao government has signed up with the Australian government and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in a project to reduce the spread of the disease associated with drug users.

The HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Programme is a new initiative of the Australian government. The project in Laos will be carried out over six years, and has a budget of more than 29.3 billion kip (AU$4 million).

The programme will provide support for interventions aimed at promoting effective harm reduction approaches in order to prevent the transmission of HIV amongst male and female injecting drug users.

"I ask all of you, Australian, UNODC and other partners, to put effort and cooperation into working together effectively to achieve our goal," said the Minister to the President's Office and Chairman of the Lao Commission for Drug Control and Supervision (LCDC), Mr Soubanh Srithirath.

"In our master plan, this matter is of high priority for our government."

A tripartite meeting of Laos , Cambodia and Vietnam was held in Phnom Penh , Cambodia , last year, when the three sides expressed deep concerns about the problem.

"This signing ceremony is very important to all of us. It is a sign of the Australian government's commitment to the Lao government to assist it in the challenge of fulfilling the master control drug plan," said Australian Ambassador to Laos Dr Michele Forster.

"I hope that donors, partners and the Lao government will continue to help Laos to achieve its objective."

UNODC Representative to Laos Leik Boonwaat said it was a very important partnership that would provide a more comprehensive response to address HIV/AIDS and the drug problem in Laos .

"I look forward to working with you to help Laos to become a drug free country," he said.

The project will be in two phases, the first to run from 2009 to 2012 and the second from 2012 to 2015.

According to an LCDC document, the programme aims to strengthen the commission, the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Public Security so they can effectively and efficiently deliver harm reduction services to the main groups of drug users - amphetamine users and heroin users.

The programme will contribute to achieving development priorities stated in the national Strategy and Action Plan on HIV/AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Infections and the National Drug Control Master Plan.

The signing ceremony was held in Vientiane yesterday.