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AIDS Healthcare Foundation and NCHADS Partnership Adds 8th Cambodian AIDS Treatment Center in Kirivong
Date:2/14/2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which operates free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia, is honored to announce the partnership between the Cambodian Government and AHF and the start of its collaborative AIDS treatment center in Cambodia. The facility, AHF's eighth in the country, was dedicated Monday, February 11th in Kirivong with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at the facility at the Kirivong Referral Hospital in Takeo Province. The Cambodian clinics are a partnership between AHF Cambodia Cares, the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Cambodia and Cambodia's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STI Control (NCHADS). The partnership aims to provide life-saving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to people living with HIV/AIDS in Cambodia in care centers in the Operational Districts (OD) of several provinces throughout the country. Other ART centers in the partnership in Cambodia include sites in Phnom Penh, and in the provinces of Kandal, Kampong Thom, Kampot, Prey Veng, Stung Treng and Svay Rieng.

"We are honored to open our eighth collaborative ART center in partnership with the Cambodian Ministry of Health and NCHADS at Kirivong, in Takeo Province, a facility which will bring relief, positive changes, better quality life and above all, hope of life to those in need in the surrounding area," said Dr. Chinkholal Thangsing, Asia Pacific Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Over the next five years, we will work together to expand and increase our collaborative initiatives in Cambodia, and AHF will continue to provide technical support and strengthen the roll out of antiretroviral treatment and the scale up of ART delivery services in Cambodia. It is our sincere hope that this collaboration between AHF and NCHADS will not only improve access to HIV/AIDS care and treatment throughout the country, but also serve as a shining example of a comprehensive and collaborative model of care for people living with HIV/AIDS."

One key aspect contributing to the success of AHF's work with its partners in Cambodia includes the linkage of clinic services provided together with other community and home-based services. In addition, the Cambodian partnership focuses on integrating the delivery of services under a Continuum of Care (CoC) approach -- an approach that recognizes the complexities surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic in order to improve prevention efforts and optimize use of the oftentimes limited resources available in the successful care and treatment of those living with the disease.

Background on Takeo Province

Takeo Province, one of 20 provinces in Cambodia, is located in southwestern Cambodia about 130 kms from Phnom Penh. Kirivong serves as one of the ten Operational Health Districts (OD) of the province, where the population of the surrounding area is approximately 226,000 people. The Kirivong Operational District has one Referral Hospital and 19 Health Centers.

The ART Clinic, located at Kirivong Referral Hospital, was established in October 2005 by NCHADS and was supported by Europe Aid working with NCHADS from October 2005 to October 2007. At that time, Europe Aid ended its support to this clinic and NCHADS was left with no option but to seek support from elsewhere otherwise risk closing of the center.

"It was then that NCHADS contacted AHF Cambodia Cares to provide support for continuance of support to the ART Center. AHF Cambodia Cares started its partial support to the Kirivong Continuum of Care site in October, and began fully supporting it from January 2008 onward. This collaborative support provided by AHF Cambodia Cares to NCHADS will ensure treatment, care and support to hundreds of clients on ART will continue to receive the life saving medications without interruption," said Dr. Chhim Sarath, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Country Program Manager for Cambodia. "The center will not only support and provide continued services to existing clients, but will also ensure rapid scale up of the lifesaving treatment to many more PLHAs in Kirivong."

Currently there are 336 clients at the Kirivong site on treatment and care and 181 clients on antiretroviral treatment. The objectives of this collaboration at Kirivong are similar to the partnerships' other projects throughout Cambodia, and include:

-- Capacity and skill building of the doctors and healthcare providers at the Kirivong Referral Hospital in collaboration with NCHADS, and

-- Establishment of an ART Clinic at the hospital and provision of free antiretroviral treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), including treatment of both adults and children.

HIV/AIDS in Cambodia

The first case of HIV infection in Cambodia was reported in 1991 and was followed by a rapid rise in its transmission. Cambodia's national HIV/AIDS prevalence rate - around 3% in 1997 but decreasing to 1.9% in 2003 - is still understood to be one of the highest in Southeast Asia. According to a recent AFP/France 24 News Report (as cited on Kaiser Family Foundation's Daily HIV/AIDS Report), "Almost 10,000 Cambodians die of AIDS-related illnesses annually, according to government statistics. About 1.9% of Cambodia's 13.8 million people are HIV-positive."

"It is a privilege for AHF to continue to be a part of this successful AIDS treatment effort in Cambodia, and I thank our partners at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Mean Chhi Vun and his team at NCHADS, as well as our own dedicated staff at AHF's Asia Pacific Bureau for helping to make widespread treatment availability more and more a reality in Cambodia," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the US' largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. AHF currently provides treatment, care and support services to more than 62,000 individuals in 20 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at http://www.aidshealth.org.


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SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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