Press Release


01 December 2020

  • Vientiane Capital, 1 December 2020 - Every year, people around the world commemorate World AIDS Day on 1 December as a means of compassion and support for people living with and affected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and to remember those who lost their lives to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This year the commemoration focuses on advocacy, engaging partners and civil societies, to strengthen the work at community level, and to make testing, treatment, and care available to those who needs it.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved into the defining global health crisis of our time. However, there are many similarities of how COVID-19 and HIV are disproportionally impacting those most vulnerable, when they face challenges in ensuring dignity, gender equality and access to health services and social protection.

Caption: Engagement with partners on HIV response
Photo: © UN Lao PDR

UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR, Ms. Sara Sekkenes said “Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the entrenched inequalities that exist in our societies, affecting the poor and most vulnerable, something we recognize also from the manner in which HIV manifested itself. The theme for this year’s World Health Day calls for global solidarity and shared responsibility as no individual, organization or country can address the health crises and eliminate the underlying inequalities on its own. We need to work together to improve access to health systems for the vulnerable groups, and demand the rights to health for all if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals that leave no one behind by 2030.”

To help Lao PDR come to grips with the impacts of COVID on services for people living with HIV, the UN has leveraged on the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund to strengthen community preparedness to respond to HIV. This involves developing new community service models, improving service delivery and quality of care, and reducing the number of people at the treatment sites to avoid the risk of COVID-19 transmission.


In Lao PDR, there are approximately 13,000 people living with HIV, but only 55 percent of them have access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART). Access to these essential services is critical for their wellbeing. Dr Mark Jacobs, WHO Representative to Lao PDR said “We must continue to make HIV testing and treatment services available for people living with and at risk of HIV by making it easy for them to access much needed services at the community level. This means no disruption in term of services provision and medical supplies at health centres.”


To help achieve the national and global vision of “Ending AIDS by 2030”, additional effort is needed to strengthen service delivery at community level so that many more people can easily access this treatment, since the treatment is not only life-saving, but it also reduces risks for others.


“Communities play an important role in response to HIV. That is why UNAIDS and Alliance has focused our efforts on strengthening the capacity of key populations at community level in order to mitigate disruption of HIV services and ensure that patient-centered care can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.” said Thongdeng Silakoune, UNAIDS Country Manager to Lao PDR. 



For more information please contact:

Thongdeng Silakoune

 UNAIDS Country Manager in Lao PDR

Tel: 856-20-2220 6110


Irene Tan

WHO Communication

Tel: 856-20-2135 3905



Mr. Thongdeng Silakoune

Mr. Thongdeng Silakoune

Country Manager
Mr. Thongdeng Silakoune has worked as the UNAIDS Country Manager since April 2015. Before joining UNAIDS, he has 2 years of experience as a government employee, 20 years with UNICEF and 2 years with World Vision. In UNICEF he worked in various fields from communications and education to health with 15 years of experience in the area of HIV/AIDS, managing the prevention and care and support component of the HIV/AIDS program. In World Vision, he was in charge of the Public Engagement Department which supervised three areas of work - in Communication, Government Relations and Advocacy. Mr. Silakoune has a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Public Health.
Susan Sengmanithong

Susan Sengmanithong

Coordination Officer (Communications and Partnerships Support)

UN entities involved in this initiative

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS