The Proud to Be Us event kicks off for the 2nd year.

INTRO: The 2nd Annual “Proud to Be US” event kicks off at the sports field of the U.S. Ambassador to Laos aiming to increase awareness on sexual health education regarding HIV/AIDS and STI related to young key affected population. According to one of the event organizers Anan Bouapha, Laos is categories as a low-prevalence country, which is 2.0%, but doesn’t mean Laos is not at all at risk

STORY: The annual Proud to Be Us event was held for the second time joining by the Lao Red Cross Society, the Youth Center for Health and Development of Lao Women Union, UN agencies and other organizations at the Sports field of the Embassy of the United States of America. The event also joined by representatives from the American, German, UK Embassies and other international organizations

The fun day filled music, dance, skits, and dramas exploring issues faced by marginalized people in certain Lao society particularly the rise of HIV/AIDS among young key affected population

Interview: Karen Sward, US Ambassador to Laos

According to US Ambassador to Laos Karen Sward, the gathering is an important venue in increasing awareness on sexual health education regarding HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, and to promote the concept that everyone can be a valuable resource to national development if they are not subjected to stigma and discrimination.

Interview: Anan Bouapha, Y-PEER Asia Pacific trainer, and event organizer.

According to the National Center for HIV/AIDS prevention, Ministry of Health, and certified by UN-AIDS, currently there is an estimated of over 8000 people who are reported to be infected with HIV/AIDS virus in Laos, and with young people between 15 to 25 years of age most at risk because of unprotected intercourse and the lack of education and information on this issue.

Interview: Dr. Dalayvan Keonakhone, Director of Vientiane Youth Center for Health and Development of Lao Women Union.

“Many people engage in unsafe sex because they are not aware of how to protect themselves from the disease. The centre is focusing on an information campaign by distributing free condoms and expanding its advisory network for at-risk groups”

Interview: Dr. Soulany Chansy, deputy director of Lao Red Cross Society.

Interview: Siaart Thammavong, PSI volunteer

“One of the main challenges is that the education level of Lao people, especially those living in remote areas, remains low. The government attaches great importance to the health of the Lao people by ensuring access to health services and information on how to avoid contracting the disease”

According to health officials, Laos faces a serious threat from the virus because it is surrounded by five nations with a higher rate of infection. As a transit country, the trend is towards more exchanges of people and goods between neighbouring countries, leading to more hotels and entertainment venues offering sex services and the means to acquire injection drugs.

Source: LNTV English News