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International News

Cambodia: Access to Drugs a Lifesaver for People With HIV

November 3, 2010

Rural HIV patients in Cambodia face unique challenges compared to their urban counterparts. In remote villages, people with HIV often lack basic medical care and encounter disease-related stigma and ignorance from neighbors. There are no HIV/AIDS counselors to talk to about living with the virus.

Cambodia offers free antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to those who need it. But in remote rural areas, extra measures are required.


"HIV and AIDS is the big issue, the big challenge in Cambodia, especially in rural areas like Kampong Cham," said Thorn Vandong, a monk and executive director of the non-governmental group Buddhism and Society Development Association. BSDA links rural HIV patients with counseling, provides them with monthly stipends so they can afford transportation to clinics, and offers health education to communities.

"People who live in the village are very poor," said Pheaktra Lansamrith, a BSDA project coordinator. "If they don't have money, then some of them just won't get the help they need."

Kampong Cham is one of the country's most populous provinces; its capital is a 125-kilometer drive from Phnom Penh. HIV programs have yet to reach some parts of Kampong Cham. "We just started our program last year," said Thorn. "So you can imagine what happened here after 20 years with no HIV programs in the community."

However, Cambodia has made significant strides in tackling HIV/AIDS. It is currently ahead of its target of cutting the HIV prevalence rate among adults to 1.8 percent by 2015, with current estimates at 0.7 percent. And in 2002, just 3 percent of those in need of ARVs were receiving them. That figure now stands at roughly 86 percent, government data show.

Back to other news for November 2010

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service
11.01.2010; Irwin Loy

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Cambodia and HIV/AIDS

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