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Cambodia Claims to Meet HIV Reduction Targets Ahead of Schedule

Cambodian health workers give away information on HIV prevention to residents in Peam village, Kandal province, Cambodia, Monday, February 22, 2016. (Photo: Aun Chhengpor/VOA Khmer)

The Cambodian government has committed itself to eliminating new cases of HIV infection by 2025.

Cambodia has said it has reached its HIV testing and treatment targets three years ahead of schedule.

In a statement the Ministry of Health and UNHIV/AIDS program last week said the so-called 90-90-90 targets of informing people of their HIV status, helping people access treatment, and where those accessing treatment are receiving viral suppression, had been met ahead of the 2020 goal.

As a result Cambodia joins just six other countries to have already met the targets, the statement said, making it the country with the highest levels of treatment coverage in the region.

“Cambodia is to be congratulated for reaching this global target three years before the world’s deadline,” Vladanka Andreeva, UNAIDS Cambodia director, was quoted in the statement as saying. “This shows that the country’s strong leadership, commitment and engagement with communities are having phenomenal results.”

Mam Bunheng, minister of health, could not be reached for comment, but ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said the achievement reflected the government’s efforts over the past few years.

Choub Sok Chamreun, executive director of Khana, an organization that works with HIV-affected people, said civil society was pleased with the advances in HIV/AIDS treatment and care that Cambodia has made.

“We strongly believe this momentum will be maintained to support the Kingdom in eliminating new HIV infections or to have fewer than 300 new cases a year,” he said.

Vandine said that the health ministry was concerned that the progress might not be sustainable as donor countries scaled back funding. “Currently we are faced with a challenge to the sustainability and the quality of service provision for HIV treatment as foreign aid is reduced,” she said.

Official figures suggest the national HIV/AIDS rate dropped from 0.48 percent in 2010 to 0.28 percent in 2014.

The Cambodian government has committed itself to eliminating new cases of HIV infection by 2025, but the commitment was thrown into doubt after two mass HIV outbreaks in 2015 and 2016.