UNAIDS: Infections of HIV down 95% from 1997 peak

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National AIDS Authority on Sunday marked World AIDS Day in the presence of National Authority for Combating drugs president Ke Kim Yan at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall. UN-Cambodia

The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said new HIV infections have been reduced by 95 per cent in Cambodia since their peak in 1997.

A report by UNAIDS pointed out that 880 people were newly infected with AIDS last year, compared to 16,500 in 1997.

Comparably, new HIV infections since 2010 have declined by an estimated 62 per cent from 2,300 to 880 people last year.

And new HIV infections among children have declined by 72 per cent, from 370 in 2010 to less than 200 last year.

As of the end of last year, 73,000 people were living with AIDS, of which 3,300 were children aged 15 or under. Of people who were HIV-positive, 82 per cent knew that they were living with it.

Meanwhile, AIDS-related deaths had reduced by 80 per cent since their peak in 2003. Lat year, around 1,300 people died from AIDS-related illnesses, compared to 6,400 deaths in 2003 and 2,500 in 2010.

From the outbreak of AIDS in Cambodia to last year, a total of 155,000 people had become infected and 71,000 of them had died, the report said.

It said three people aged 15 to 24 became infected with HIV every week. Last year, one in five new HIV infections was a person in this age bracket.

The risk of acquiring HIV is mainly among men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers and transgender people.

UNAIDS said that as of the end of June this year, 60,422 people were accessing antiretroviral therapy. Some 85 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent the transmission of HIV to their children.

The Power to the People report by UNAIDS showed that where people living with and affected by HIV were engaged in decision-making and HIV service delivery, new infections declined and HIV patients gained access to treatment.

UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima said: “When people and communities are empowered and have urgency, change happens.

“The solidarity of women, young people, gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs and transgender people has transported the AIDS epidemic – empowering them will end the epidemic.”

National AIDS Authority (NAA) secretary-general Chhim Khin Dareth told The Post that high risks of AIDS infections involve gay people, sex workers, and young people.

He said the disease could be prevented if spouses are faithful to one another and used condoms if they had more than one partner.

“For youths, they should not have sex before getting a good health education first. We are worried about youths who have sex at a very young age without first receiving education [on AIDS prevention],” he said.

On Sunday, NAA marked World AIDS Day in the presence of National Authority for Combating drugs president Ke Kim Yan at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall.

The event was attended by some 700 participants from national and international institutions including civil society organisations.

NAA statistics showed that AIDS-related deaths had been reduced by some 48 per cent from 2010 to 2018.

On the other hand, discrimination against AIDS-positive people had declined. Specifically, employment opportunity denials had dropped to two per cent last year from 46 per cent in 2010.