World AIDS Day in Cambodia

The First Lady of Cambodia , Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen, President of the Cambodian Red Cross, the appointed National Champion for the United Nations Secretary-General's Action Plan for Women's and Children's Health and the National Champion for the United Nations Asia-Pacific Leadership Forum in response to HIV/AIDS in Cambodia, awards Mr Tony Lisle, UNAIDS Country Coordinator.

Halt the HIV Epidemic

The events of the World AIDS Day were celebrated in Cambodia, as every year, and with very good reasons given the singular and steady achievements in this particular area. Indeed Cambodia is well on its way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals 6 by 2015. In 2010, the national HIV prevalence amongst the general population fell further to 0.8% - and it is likely to continue falling; 93% of people in need of ARV are now receiving it; AIDS related deaths fell from 2, 783 last year to 2,484, and similarly, new HIV infections declined from 1,473 to 1,326; and they are expected to decline to 900 by 2015, as stated by the Secretary General of the National AIDS Authority.

In her speech, the First Lady remarked: 'I would like to declare the commitment of Cambodia in continuing its noble humanitarian mission with stronger efforts to build a society, where there is zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, zero discrimination to people living with HIV/AIDS, particularly there will be a complete reduction of women's and girls' vulnerability to HIV/AIDS'.

The First Lady reiterated that despite great achievements, there is still much to be done to accomplish the United Nations General Assembly endorsed strategy of Zero, stating that: 'Although, we have continuously gained successes in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS which we should be proud of, we should maximise our joint efforts in reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence rate by 50% amongst the most at risk populations'.

In his speech at the event, Mr Tony Lisle, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, and on behalf of the UNAIDS Co-sponsors in Cambodia, reminded the audience that '… punitive laws and chronic levels of stigma and discrimination remain unacceptable barriers to accessing HIV services for too many socially marginalised and vulnerable people around the world'.

The event was attended by Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers, Senators, Members of the National Assembly and of the Royal Government, Governor of Phnom Penh Municipality, United Nations, Representatives of Diplomatic Missions, people living with HIV and AIDS, civil society, teachers and students.

The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) in Cambodia assists the Royal Government to increase access to HIV services in prison settings, and amongst drug users through a community-based drug dependence treatment program, inclusive of HIV interventions, to provide a continuum of care for all drug users as an alternative solution to the compulsory centres' approach. Headed by UNODC, the Program is a collective effort between the Royal Government and the United Nations Country Team, particularly the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, to develop a nation-wide, voluntary, community and rights based drug dependence treatment system.