In Asia and the Pacific, Cambodia is one of the three countries that have achieved the 90–90–90 HIV treatment targets with a minimum of 73 percent of people living with HIV having suppressed viral loads, according to UNAIDS’ report on the global AIDS epidemic.
Beside Cambodia, the other two nations are Australia and Thailand, the same source pointed out.
Thousands of lives and new infections have been saved by the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy. However, 160,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses last year and 3.5 million of the 5.8 million people living with HIV were accessing the life-saving treatment.
The region is far behind in preventing new HIV infections. Some 300,000 people were newly infected with the virus. There has been progress in the region, where new HIV infections have reduced by 12 percent since 2010, with reductions in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. However new HIV infections are on the rise in Pakistan and the Philippines.
In Cambodia, female members of the Antiretroviral Users Association maintained their counselling services for their peers during the lockdown. In Nepal, community organisations and people living with HIV delivered HIV medicines directly to homes during the lockdown. Adherence support was provided virtually via social media apps. COVID-19 spurred the implementation of multimonth dispensing of antiretroviral medicines in Thailand.
In Asia and the Pacific, 300,000 people were newly infected with HIV and 160,000 died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2019. Key populations and their partners, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who inject drugs, accounted for an estimated 98 percent of new HIV infections, and more than one quarter of new HIV infections were among young people (aged 15 to 24 years).The response could be set back further if the COVID-19 pandemic results in severe disruptions to HIV services.
“Key populations continue to be insufficiently served by HIV prevention programmes,” warns Mr. Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
UNAIDS is also urging countries to increase investments in both diseases. All international sources of HIV funding declined by 63 percent from 2010 to 2019, including a 14 percent fall in United States Government bilateral funding, a 28 percent decline in Global Fund contributions and a 28 percent decline in funding from other international sources. These declines mostly affect HIV prevention services for key populations, which are heavily dependent on international funding, while domestic resources often prioritise funding for HIV treatment and care.
“The AIDS epidemic remains a global crisis fueled by inequalities that demands that we double down, build on our successes and act with greater urgency to reach the millions still being left behind,” states Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
Source: Agency Kampuchea Press