UNAIDS supports efforts by Lao PDR to end the AIDS epidemic

The Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, Steve Kraus has started a three-day mission to Lao PDR which aims to strengthen the country’s efforts in accelerating its response to HIV. Last month Lao PDR was one of 58 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific to endorse the Report of the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS, along with the Regional framework for action on HIV and AIDS beyond 2015 at the 71st session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand.

“By endorsing this road map, Lao PDR has shown its commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” said Mr Kraus. “UNAIDS is here to support the country’s efforts to Fast-Track its HIV response by scaling up prevention and treatment programmes during the next five years.”

On the first day of his visit Mr Kraus visited a hospital, which is providing antiretroviral medicine to people living with HIV. Later in the week he will meet with the Minister of Health, Eksavang Vongvichit, the Director of the Centre for HIV/AIDS/STIs, Bounpheng Philavong, members of civil society and development partners. During his visits and meetings, Mr Kraus is being accompanied by Mr Thongdeng Silakoune, the newly appointed head of UNAIDS’ office in Lao PDR.

In the past 15 years, Lao PDR has maintained a low HIV prevalence of less than 0.5% among the population aged 15-49 years old. The AIDS epidemic is concentrated in key populations at higher risk of HIV, including sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs (PWID). An estimated 11 000 people were living with HIV in Lao PDR in 2014 with 3 336 people living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment. The majority of HIV cases that have been identified are in border provinces along the Mekong River, including Vientiane, the country’s capital.

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