HIV/AIDS campaign to be amplified in SEA Games

Posted by samakomlao Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Health officials will continue to increase public awareness of HIV/AIDS before, during and after the SEA Games that take place next month in Vientiane .

A meeting of health officials and representatives from international organisations was held in Vientiane yesterday with support from UNAIDS.

Deputy Director of the Centre for HIV/AIDS/STI, Dr Phouthone Southalack, said a special campaign for use during the games had been submitted to the Ministry of Health for consideration.

“The campaign includes various activities to ensure athletes, officials and visitors understand how to protect themselves against the HIV virus,” he said.

In the lead-up to the games the centre plans to broadcast HIV/AIDS information on radio and television stations, including interviews with representatives from the National Committee to Combat HIV/AIDS, Centre for HIV/AIDS/STI, UNAIDS to Laos, Lao athletes and people living with HIV.

During the games, the centre and its partners plan to organise photo exhibitions highlighting the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS.

After the games, the centre will train 20 Lao medallists to take part in a programme to address young people in 20 upper secondary and vocational schools in Vientiane about HIV/AIDS.

The centre will also use World AIDS Day on December 1 to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS issues.

The centre also plans to prepare pamphlets about the virus for public distribution and set up a short message service (SMS) facility which people can use to ask any questions they may have.

Lao health officials have also learnt from Thai doctors who have shared their experiences on HIV/AIDS campaigns during similar events.

“I think Laos will be a good host of the games and the centre will continue to campaign on HIV/AIDS to make sure the number of new infections doesn't increase,” Dr Phouthone said.

He said that in recent years, the centre's HIV/AIDS campaigns have been well supported by the Ministry of Health, international organisations and various state-partner organisations, allowing Laos to maintain a low prevalence of the disease.

The centre regularly conducts surveys of at-risk groups which have shown that infection rates were 0.9 percent in 2001, 0.02 percent in 2004 and 0.4 percent in 2008.

According to the centre, from 1990 to 2008, out of a sample of 189,988 blood tests, 3,123 were positive for the HIV virus.

Of these, 2,011 people developed AIDS and 925 people died from the virus.

Worldwide, more than 33 million people are affected by the virus and an average of 14,000 people become infected every day.

UNAIDS Social Mobilisation Advisor Dr Khamlay Manivong also attended the meeting.

By Xayxana Leukai

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