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Monday, November 02, 2009

AHF/Cambodia CARES to launch its AIDS testing initiative during the annual Water Festival

During Last Year's 'One Million Tests' World AIDS Day 2008 Campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES and Cambodian Partners Surpassed Country's 30,000 Testing Goal by Testing 35,034

As part of an ambitious global effort to test several million people for HIV in observance of the Testing Millions World AIDS Day 2009 campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES will launch its inaugural testing effort during the annual Water Festival, which marks the end of the rainy season and is the largest festival in the Cambodian calendar. The Water Festival commences Sunday, November 1st. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS group in the US which currently provides AIDS medical care and services to more than 120,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia Pacific Region and Eastern Europe, is spearheading the worldwide initiative to test millions. Last year, AHF led the successful 'One Million Tests/World AIDS Day 2008' campaign during which AHF/Cambodia CARES and its Cambodian partners surpassed their country goal of performing 30,000 tests by testing 35,034 individuals, identifying 1,112 HIV positive individuals in the process. The 2008 campaign far exceeded its goal of performing one million tests by testing 1,603,272 people and identifying 61,399 HIV positive people.

AHF/Cambodia CARES, which partners with NCHADS in operating 12 free AIDS treatment clinics throughout the country, has also taken a leadership role to coordinate and partner with other stakeholders to reach as many people as possible for the HIV testing and the Love Condom campaign. As its part of the in-country component of the global testing campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES has committed to testing 12,000 people for HIV throughout the month of November in Cambodia, one of the countries in the Asia Pacific region that has been hardest-hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"With the beginning of the Water Festival, AHF/Cambodia CARES will get an early start and launch our country's participation in the 'Testing Millions' World AIDS Day 2009 campaign. We will be testing in Phnom Penh and other provinces and link those found to be positive to a clinic for follow up care and access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment as well as the positive prevention to stop the spreading of the virus, and those who found as negative will learn about HIV prevention to keep them stay negative" said Chhim Sarath, M.D., AHF Country Director for Cambodia.

Cambodia is one of the poorest nations in Asia and also has one of the most rapidly growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the region. The HIV epidemic has spread beyond high-risk groups such as sex workers, male police officers, factory workers, mobile populations, injection drug users and men who have sex with men, to the general population.

The number of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) centers in Cambodia has increased dramatically over the last 5 years (only 12 sites in 2000 to 216 sites by the end of first quarter 2009). Of the current 216 VCT centers, 194 are supported directly by the government, while 22 are supported by non-governmental organizations.

SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation

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