Five Southeast Asian Countries Collaborate to Fight HIV/AIDS
China, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam on Wednesday signed an agreement pledging to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia, with a specific focus on providing education for "highly mobile people," Agence France-Presse reports. Dr. Tia Phalla, secretary general of Cambodia's National AIDS Authority, said that the agreement signed by the five countries would allow NGOs and governments to work more closely to provide HIV/AIDS counseling and education to the region's highly mobile workforce. "No country confronts the threat of HIV/AIDS in isolation and no national response is without consequences beyond national borders," Phalla said (Agence France-Presse, 9/5). However, the United Nations warned during the signing ceremony that plans to improve transportation and road systems in the region may inadvertently lead to the spread of HIV by increasing human traffic between nations. In a report released at the ceremony, the United Nations stated that plans to rebuild routes "ravaged by three decades of war and neglect" could lead to increased tourism and human traffic, which in turn could lead to the creation of hotels, guest houses and brothels where the virus might spread. Cambodian officials have also cautioned that rebuilding routes that link the country with Thailand and Vietnam "could aggravate the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic." According to Phalla, "The AIDS rate [in Cambodia] is down. But mobile populations moving from place to place can spread this disease. We need to think strongly about preventing this" (Reuters, 9/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.