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news | January 26, 2010 | Cambodia | Emergency

ACTED-PSF Cambodia: A multidemensional struggle against HIV/AIDS

© ACTED-PSF 2010

The ACTED-PSF Cambodia programme is rooted in a historical action against HIV/AIDS in the country. Present in the country since 1991, Pharmaciens Sans Frontières- international – Comité International (PSF-CI) was one of the first NGOs to work on sexually transmissible infections (STI) and HIV prevention in Cambodia. In December 2009, ACTED-PSF Cambodia is still very much focused on the prevention and response to HIV/AIDS. The team, nowadays comprising of 62 staff members, currently implements three projects.

A difficult context

In the 1990s, Cambodia was severely affected by the HIV epidemic. Although the epidemic was very concentrated on high risk populations, especially sex workers, it progressively reached the general population. In the late 1990s, the prevalence rate of HIV among adult populations reached a peak of 2%, and 42% among sex workers.

In 1994, PSF-CI joined efforts to instigate a prevention project along with sex workers. In 1998, the 100% condom use campaign was initiated by the HIV/AIDS national programme, PSF-CI being one of the earliest partners to contribute to its implementation. Since 2005, it supports the National HIV/AIDS programme’s logistic unit to strengthen logistic management of antiretroviral and opportunistic infections’ medicines. Although PSF-CI is one of the very first NGOs to have strived for HIV/AIDS prevention in this particular country, the struggle continues.

An ambitious intervention

Since then, our teams have been very active in providing outreach education to women working in brothels, karaoke places, massage parlours and others entertainment places. Thy Phoeum, a 28 years old woman attests: “the PSF team continues to help me as well as my friends at the karaoke by offering us free transport to the health centres and awareness-raising meetings on AIDS. I now work as an educator for PSF and spread what PSF taught me to my friends.” The ACTED-PSF Cambodia projects now reach over 4,500 entertainment workers in Phnom Penh. Each month, STI consultations are delivered to 2,500 women and 4,000 women benefit from educational activities. In addition, over 130,000 condoms are provided monthly free of charge.

Still, a large proportion of infections are nowadays transmitted from husband to wife and mother to child. The ACTED-PSF mission came in support of 28 centres which provide ARV treatments for AIDS-infected people and will carry this action with 13 additional others before August 2010. The project enables the training of pharmacists and/or nurses in charge of the management and provision of medicines.

While Cambodia has become an international reference in regards to AIDS prevention, the fight against the epidemic is far from over; a reality the ACTED-PSF mission strives to alleviate.

Read Dr Sreng Sineng interview, ACTED-PSF in Cambodia Medical Team Manager .