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At a glance: Lao People's Democratic Republic


© UNICEF Lao/2005/Gautier
Lao PDR Prime Minister Bounnhang Vorachit receives a present from Mr Sunxsay, a representative of people living with HIV/AIDS.

By Ruth Landy

VIENTIANE, Lao PDR, 11 November 2005 - The Prime Minister of the Lao PDR, Bounnhang Vorachit, launched the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign in Lao PDR in a historic meeting with HIV positive children and adults. 

The launch took place on a sunny morning in Vientiane, the nation’s capital, at That Phoune, the city’s largest Buddhist temple. 

The event was marked by calls for acceptance and integration of people living with HIV and AIDS in Lao PDR.  Prime Minister Vorachit said Lao people should not avoid or reject people with HIV. 

“We must take special care to ensure that children who are infected with HIV receive care, attention and warmth from their family and relatives, as well as support from society,” he said.  

© UNICEF Lao/2005/Gautier
Photo caption: UNICEF Representative Olivia Yambi and UNAIDS Country Coordinator at the Lao PDR launch. Yambi said she hoped the event would be a turning point for children affected by AIDS in the country.

During the launch, Nang Touk, the representative of Lao PDR’s HIV positive people network, asked for increased access to treatment for those who need it.  She added that the children of HIV positive people should have the same rights as other children, including “the right to treatment when they are sick, and the ability to go to school like other children without discrimination or rejection.”

Addressing government leaders, UNICEF Representative Olivia Yambi expressed her hope that "in 2015, we will look back and see the presence of His Excellency Bounnhang Vorachit, the Prime Minister of Lao PDR and the other leaders of government here today as a turning point for children and AIDS, like a stone cast into a pool sending out ripples of awareness and action in an ever widening circle. For our part, the United Nations and donors, must seek and commit more resources to strengthen the national AIDS Strategic Action Plan, and to assist children."

Lao PDR has a low HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, but it is surrounded by countries with more advanced epidemics such as Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.  However the country is very vulnerable to the epidemic given extensive labour migration, a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases and low awareness of the disease.








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