Laos strives to fight against HIV/AIDS

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Laos will do its best to fight against HIV and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of its Sustainable Development Goals, Lao Minister of Health Bounkong Sihavong has said.

“As we know, HIV/AIDS poses a threat to health and development in the world as well as in Laos. In the country, the number of new HIV infections is increasing yearly,” Bounkong was quoted by Lao state-run news agency KPL on Wednesday.

To reduce the number of yearly new HIV infections, the focus of the HIV response has been on “key populations.” Experts working on HIV believe that men who have sex with other men (MSM) and transgender women will bear the heaviest burden of new HIV infections in the coming years, the official said at at a press conference in capital Vientiane to mark the coming World AIDS Day which falls on Dec. 1.

The prevalence of HIV among these groups is estimated to be between 2 and 4 percent in key cities in Laos, which is up to 10 times higher than the HIV prevalence in the general population.

Last year, Laos launched the new Law on Prevention of HIV/AIDS and the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2020.

There are 10 units that treat HIV/AIDS free of charge across Laos, including two units in capital Vientiane at Setthathirath and Mittaphab Hospitals, in addition to clinics in the provinces of Khammuane, Savannakhet, Champasak, Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha, Bokeo and Huaphan.

Some 4,000 people living with HIV/AIDS are receiving treatment in these centers.

Meanwhile, the rate of people living with HIV/AIDS in the public among people aged from 15-49 years old is 0.3 percent, said KPL.

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