Health in Laos: HIV/AIDS a persistent threat in Laos


Laos’ Centre for HIV/AIDS/STI is gearing up to provide information on HIV/AIDS to make sure deaths from the killer disease decline in the years to come.

The centre’s deputy director Dr Chanthone Khamsibounheuang said publicity campaigns were still necessary to encourage at risk groups to protect themselves and stay safe from the disease. The main risk groups are prostitutes, drug addicts and homosexuals.

“Intercourse is the most common way the virus is transmitted. Using a condom is the best way to protect yourself against the virus,” he said.

So far, there are five treatment centres available in Laos for people living with HIV/AIDS. These are located in Mahosot Hospital and Setthathirath Hospital in Vientiane, with other centres in Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces.

From 1990 to 2009, out of a sample of 227,879 blood tests taken in Laos, 3,659 people tested positive for HIV. Of those, 2,376 people developed AIDS and 1,038 people died from the virus.

UNAIDS estimates that almost 33 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide as of the end of 2007, up from 29.5 million in 2001.

Although huge strides have been made over the past two decades, new infections outpace the ability of medical staff to deliver treatment. Despite nearly a quarter of a century of treatment and research, nearly two million people die from AIDS every year.