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On the occasion of the celebration of the World Aids Day 2012, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) with support from the Lao Youth Union (LYU), the Vientiane Youth Center for Health and Development (VYCHD), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) held a Youth Camp on November 24 at the Teacher Training Institute in Savannakhet Province.

Under the motto "Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths in Lao PDR" hundreds of youths from Savannakhet marked the international day.

The main attraction of the activity was a mini-concert by young artists including famous Lao singers which attracted close to 500 youths from Savannakhet and other districts of the province.

The activity included booths for provision of free counseling for adolescents and youth, exhibition of initiatives for the youth as well as traditional games and dances by young people.

"Although national estimates indicate that the HIV Prevalence in general population in Lao PDR is relatively low, there is no room for complacency" said the Deputy Minister of Education and Sports Ms Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun. "A steady increase of population mobility, tourism, urbanization and seasonal migration between neighbouring countries with a high and growing HIV incidence, makes Lao particularly vulnerable to the disease. Young urban and rural people in Lao PDR are at high risk due in large part to their lack of life skills and their limited understanding of HIV prevention strategies" she added.

All over the world it is estimated that 33.3 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. In Lao PDR the HIV prevalence in general population is 0.2 and according to the National Strategy and Action Plan on HIV/AIDS/STI 2011-2015, the total number of people living with HIV is estimated to be 9,000 people in 2010, but is expected to increase to 14,000 people in 2015.

The World Aids Day is held on 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. It was held for the first time in 1988.

For more information, please contact: 
Mr. Diego DE LA ROSA, Advocacy and Comms Officer, UNFPA, Mob: 020 5993 6509