Cambodian HIV/AIDS Organization Calls on Government to Provide ‘Affordable’ AIDS Drugs
An organization representing more than 4,000 HIV-positive Cambodians yesterday at the nation's second national conference on HIV/AIDS called on Cambodia's government to provide "affordable" treatment options for its HIV-positive citizens, the Associated Press reports. Heng Sokrithy, coordinator of the Cambodian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, said that although current government programs can provide the drugs for between $30 and $50 per month, the drugs are still too expensive for most Cambodians, more than one-third of whom earn less than $30 per month. Fewer than 500 of the 160,000 HIV-positive Cambodians receive free HIV/AIDS treatment. Heng said that by subsidizing the cost of the drugs, by lifting taxes on imported drugs or by getting permission to produce generic versions of HIV/AIDS drugs, the Cambodian government could extend treatment access to more of the nation's economically impoverished citizens. "If the government takes action now, it can lead to a more healthy and productive nation tomorrow," Heng said, adding that increased access to drugs "will help Cambodia continue its mandate to increase economic growth and poverty alleviation by stemming life expectancy decreases." Cambodia has the highest HIV infection rate in Southeast Asia; approximately 2.6% of people ages 15 to 49 are estimated to be HIV-positive. Tia Phalla, secretary general of Cambodia's National AIDS Authority, estimates that more than 500,000 Cambodians will be HIV-positive by 2010 and 230,000 to 250,000 Cambodians will have died from AIDS-related causes (Ker, Associated Press, 9/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.