Global HIV Testing Campaign Launched in Cambodia, Uganda
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Cambodia last week launched the first phase of a program that aims to test 10,000 people in the country for HIV, the Phnom Penh Post reports. The campaign is part of an AHF program to test one million people worldwide for HIV by World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Mam Sophal, president of the HIV/AIDS program at the Municipal Health Department in the capital of Phnom Penh, said that 579 people have been tested so far. Chhim Sarath, country program manager for AHF Cambodia, said HIV testing is "very important," and that people who test positive are provided with counseling, prevention education and care services. Sophal said that positive responses from people being tested eased his initial concerns that the campaign would not be successful. "I thought people would be afraid of the results and would not join the program, but when it started, people came to the test with smiles on their faces," he said.
Sarath said that the campaign is an "opportunity to reach people and teach them about HIV/AIDS," adding that an estimated 1,000 people daily were educated through the campaign during a recent festival. The testing campaign also will expand to eight provinces in Cambodia. Government statistics show that HIV prevalence in the country among people ages 15 to 49 has decreased from 1.9% in 2003 to 0.9% in 2007, the Post reports. AHF officials say that HIV/AIDS has spread from high-risk groups such as injection drug users and commercial sex workers to the general population (Shay/Chakrya, Phnom Penh Post, 11/14).
Uganda To Participate in Testing Campaign
In related news, the AHF campaign recently was launched in Uganda and plans to test at least 10,000 people for HIV by Dec. 1, Uganda's Daily Monitor reports. Emmanuel Ziraba, the event's coordinator, announced last week that testing centers would be established at strategic sites throughout the capital of Kampala. Event coordinators also are working with stakeholders in Kampala who have "agreed to intensify their daily work to capture more people during the week," Ziraba said. He added that people who test HIV-positive will be put in contact with care providers and given information on living with the virus. Ziraba added that people who test negative for HIV "will be equipped with knowledge on keeping away from infection."
According to the Monitor, estimates show that about one million Ugandans are living with HIV/AIDS but less than 20% are aware of their status (Kirunda, Daily Monitor, 11/15).