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Sung Ya: A Symbol of Hope in Cambodia

The birth of a child is a joyous moment for any mother, but for Sar Sim it was an especially happy moment. Having earlier been diagnosed with HIV, she was worried that her baby would be born with HIV.

Thankfully, she had been given treatment to prevent the virus being transmitted and when baby Sung Ya was born he was HIV free. Sar Sim says that finding out her son was not living with HIV was the happiest moment of her life.

Sar Sim and SungYa
Photo: Sar Sim and SungYa. Photo: Nop Sambath.

It had all seemed so different when Sar Sim first found out her own status. She became ostracized from her neighbours, some people were afraid they were going to catch the virus. Life became very difficult and Sar Sim lost all hope.

Her life changed on the day the Cambodian HIV/AIDS Education and Care (CHEC) team paid a visit to her home. They provided food and helped her access treatment to help Sar Sim regain her strength.  They also helped to educate her friends and family about HIV and how it can be prevented. When Sar Sim became pregnant, CHEC linked her to services that prevent mother to child transmission of HIV.

Thanks to the intervention of CHEC, Sung Ya is healthy and free from HIV and Sar Sim has been accepted back into her community. 

“My son is now 4 years old and plays with other children in the village,” she says. “I could never have believed this was possible given the difficult times I faced in the village not so long ago.

“I would like to say thank you to CHEC for ensuring my family’s future and other I hope CHEC will continue to help others affected by so that they too can support themselves.”

Every day, more than 1,000 children are born with HIV.  Half of these children will not survive to their second birthday.  In developed countries like Ireland, mother to child transmission of HIV has almost been eliminated. It is possible and cost effective to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV in low and middle income countries with the right level of funding and the political will.

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