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New HIV infection rates decline

HIV infection rates have slowly declined for new infections recorded in Laos reported by the Centre for HIV/AIDS/ Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).
However, according to AIDS epidemic modelling, an estimated 11,500 people in Laos were still living with HIV in 2016 with 723 new infections recorded nationally this year.
Laos has low HIV prevalence but some groups of people are at higher risk, particularly men who have sex with men and the transgender populations.
Centre for HIV/AIDS/STI representative, Dr Phengphet  Phetvixay  yesterday updated Vientiane Times via telephone on activities to prevent further HIV/AIDS/STI infections in  the country as part of marking World AIDS Day (December 1) under the theme “Everybody counts” with a focus on access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines.
He said the reduction in the rate of HIV infection was due to the fact that more people are becoming aware of the dangers of the disease and are turning up at clinics and hospitals for testing and treatment.
“Most cases of HIV occur in Vientiane and Savannakhet and Champassak provinces. Young people, those in the enterainment industry, vulnerable people and workers who look for jobs in other countries are most at risk,” he said.
This year, the centre was undertaking many activities to raise awareness about the prevention of HIV/AIDS/STI in Vientiane from December 6-9. This included distributing information on the risks and danger of AIDS to target groups and continuing its efforts to provide treatment for people living with the virus, he added.
The activities aim is to stop the disease spreading to others by upgrading awareness and expanding prevention activities to target areas.
According to WHO, globally in 2016, 1 million people died from HIV-related causes with approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV and 1.8 million people becoming newly infected that year. An estimated 1,900 have died in Laos due to HIV-related causes from 1990-2017. 
According to the National Committee to Combat HIV/AIDS, about US$5 million needs to be invested annually on the key populations if Laos wants to achieve national targets by 2020.
About US$2 million is in the pipeline but sustained funding is a concern, with resources falling short of global commitments.
Currently, a significant amount of the HIV budget comes from external funding. More domestic funding for AIDS is needed to support the national response.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update December 8, 2017 )

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