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MSF in Laos, 2005
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HIV/AIDS has been spreading slowly across the Lao People's Democratic Republic — better known as Laos — and proper care for those living with the disease has been just as slow to get underway. MSF's work in Laos targets HIV-positive people living in the province of Savannakhet, the country's most populous area.
Officially, the country has 1,400 people now living with the virus, but experts believe that the number could actually be twice as high. MSF's team works in the 170- bed district hospital, where, since June 2003, it has provided patients with lifeextending antiretroviral (ARV) medicines and cared for those with opportunistic infections. The team also provides homebased care and conducts HIV-prevention efforts. By mid-2005, MSF had registered 353 patients into the program, and 223 of them were receiving ARVs. Approximately 20 new patients join the project each month. MSF's HIV project in Savannakhet Hospital is still the only place in the country where HIV/AIDS patients can receive free ARV treatment.
In addition to treating patients directly, MSF is hoping to demonstrate to its national partners both the potential for, and effectiveness of, using ARV treatment in cases of advanced AIDS. The team is now working to attract financial support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in order to secure more sustainable access to ARVs through the national health system.
MSF has worked in Laos since 1989.