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AIDS Healthcare Foundation and NCHADS to Open the 7th collaborative ART Center in Pea Reang
Date:11/20/2007

Dedication Ceremony Wednesday November 21st, Prey Veng Province

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS organization in the United States, which operates free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, and Asia, is honored to announce the opening of its newest free AIDS treatment center in Cambodia. The facility, AHF's seventh in the country, opens Wednesday, November 21st in Pea Reang with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at the facility at the Pea Reang Referral Hospital in Prey Veng Province. The Cambodian clinics are a partnership between AIDS Healthcare Foundation, 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, Stung Treng and Svay Rieng.

"AHF, the Cambodian Ministry of Health and NCHADS are honored to open our seventh collaborative ART center in Cambodia at Pea Reang, a facility which will bring relief, positive changes, better quality life and above all hope of life to those in need in Prey Veng Province," 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 Cambodia, but also serve as a shining example of a comprehensive and collaborative model of care for people living with HIVAIDS."

"The visible success of ART treatment program in Cambodia is due to close collaboration with AHF and many other partners. We are pleased that AHF continues to steadfastly support expansion of ART clinics and we hope that this partnership will grow even stronger in the years to come," Dr. Mean Chhi Vun, Director NCHADS, and Advisor to the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Cambodia, expressed his gratitude to AHF for standing alongside NCHADS and the people of Cambodia to help bring lifesaving services to its people. He added that, "NCHADS needs more involvement of AHF and other organization for sustained success in battling HIVAIDS in Cambodia and together, we will make greater positive changes for people of Cambodia."

"We are grateful to AHF/NCHADS for opening life saving ART program for the people of Pea Reang. This is the answer to the needs of PLHAs and we know that this will change the lives of many people for the better," said Mr. Ouk Oeurn, Prey Veng Province Health Deputy Director. "We will provide all necessary local support to make it a successful program."

"Following the recommendation of NCHADS officials, an assessment of the Pea Reang Operational District was conducted in early 2007 by both AHF and NCHADS, which concluded that there was an urgent need for an antiretroviral treatment clinic in the district," said Dr. Chhim Sarath, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Country Program Manager for Cambodia. "As a result, a mutual commitment was made to open a treatment facility. Clinical staff at Pea Reang were selected and trained in the delivery of ART; PLHA counselors were selected & trained; and we identified & renovated a facility at the Referral Hospital to operate the ART clinic in, including building space for monthly PLHA self-help group meetings. So far, around one hundred PLHAs have identified themselves to us and joined with the group to await the opening of this clinic. This Pea Reang clinic will greatly expand our reach to PLHAs and help save many, many lives."

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 Prey Veng Province

Prey Veng Province, one of 20 provinces in Cambodia, is located in the southeast part of Cambodia about 90 kms from Phnom Penh. Pea Reang serves as one of the seven Operational Health Districts (OD) of the province, where the population of the surrounding area is approximately one million people. The Pea Reang Operational District consists of one Referral Hospital and 15 Health Centers.

The objectives of this newest AIDS treatment collaboration at Pea Reang in Prey Veng are similar to the partnerships' other projects throughout Cambodia, and include:

-- Capacity and skill building of the doctors and healthcare providers at

the Pea Reang 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."

"AHF has significant expertise and experience in ART service delivery and skills and capacity building related to HIV/AIDS treatment and care, and we are well-positioned to complement the Cambodian Ministry of Health in its efforts to enhance access to prevention, treatment and care at these facilities in Cambodia," said Henry E. Chang, AHF's Chief of Global Affairs. "We are excited to begin delivering innovative medical and non-medical interventions at this newest facility at Pea Reang, as well as continuing to provide technical support and training resources to strengthen the diagnostic and treatment capacity and skills HIV/AIDS and ART treatment services providers in Cambodia."

"It is a privilege for AHF 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 with each new clinic," 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 61,000 individuals in 18 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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