HIV/AIDS Infections Increasing In Laos

Source: Vientiane Times

The number of new Lao HIV-contracted cases annually is trending upwards because at risk groups are having unsafe sex and receiving treatment too late, National Committee to Combat HIV/AIDS (NCCA) reported yesterday.

Currently, there are some 11,500 people living with HIV in Laos with another 1,000 new cases each year, NCCA noted at its meeting in the capital.

According to the NCCA, risk groups include sex workers, drug users who share syringes, MSM (man who have sex with men) and local and foreign migran ts.

Minister of Health and NCCA President, Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong told the meeting HIV/AIDS was spreading in the country because the number of migrant workers both local and foreign is increasing and some groups are practicing unsafe sex.

He added the rate of HIV/AIDS contraction was still high because these target groups can’t access health services, while prevention campaigns were still lacking in remote areas.

At the meeting the NCCA asked government officials and international organisations for more cooperation to combat the problem.

The cooperation of all parties is needed to determine those most vulnerable to the disease and how to provide them with the knowledge to protect themselves. In the near future, the NCCA intends to expand its research on risk groups to include communities in remote areas of the country.

NCCA plans to eliminate HIV/AIDS within Laos by 2030 and is continuing its efforts to provide treatment for people living with HIV to stop the disease spreading to others by upgrading awareness raising and expanding prevention activities to rural areas.

However, Laos is facing various challenges to address the problem including difficultly locating risk groups, some partners having unsafe sex and the number of entertainment venues is increasing.

Unsafe migration and discrimination against people with HIV are also challenges while some risk groups come to receive treatment too late.

Ministry of Health and development partners recently launched the Integrated Development Project for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS in Phonthong district, Champassak province to prevent the risk of human exploitation and trafficking and risk of sexually contracted infections.

The risks include those of abuse, drugs, human exploitation and trafficking and sexually contracted infections. All of these risks have the potential to damage lives, so the project is focused on their prevention.

This project focuses on awareness raising, vocational training, leadership and community development in order to promote a more protective environment, which helps prevent unsafe migration and its risks.