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CPN+ Host Its General Assembly and Strategic Planning

This is a critical turning point in the development of the network as the Cambodian People Living with HIV Network (CPN+) hosts its GA from 11 to 13 February at the Phnom Penh hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This big meeting is attended by 160 participants including representation from positive MSM and TG community and other stakeholders WNU, CCW, AUA, MMM, SHG and CPN+ provincial coordinators. The event is supported by UNAIDS, KHANA and Technical Support Hub, UNWomen and APN+. CPN+ will move to appoint the new board within 30 days of the GA - and further develop the strategic plan.

CPN+ is the largest national network of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Cambodia, with over 27,000 PLHIV members across 18 provinces. It opened its first General Assembly in 5 years on 11th February as part of the re-launch of the network, which has been through significant institutional reforms over the last 12 months.

“This event is a great moment in CPN+’s history, and I believe that the network is on the right track in rebuilding itself”, said Huot Totem, a founding member of CPN+ and former Board member.

The 3-day meeting was attended by more than 90 PLHIV representative members from around the country and observers from government, development partners, and civil society. PLHIV members contributed to the development of CPN+’s long term strategy on achieving the goals of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero HIV-related discrimination. The5-year strategic plan “Building Positive Futures” will guide CPN+ in addressing the changing needs of PLHIV through improving access to quality health services, strengthening HIV-sensitivity of social protection schemes, promoting the rights of PLHIV and their families, and strengthening links with other national networks of PLHIV and most-at-risk populations for a more comprehensive and effective approach to addressing the emerging cross-cutting issues.

The General Assembly also discussed core governance issues, adopted a new set of bylaws, and for the first time in its history, elected 4 new members to the Board of Directors. “I am able to see that the new board members were openly and freely elected, independent and committed to work together and serve all PLHIV” said Tit Nget, a CPN+ member from Phnom Penh. An additional 3 members will be invited to sit on the Board at a later date. In addition, the General Assembly also provided a unique opportunity for CPN+ members to collectively contribute to the growth of CPN+, says Mr. Sorn Sotheariddh, the CPN+ National Coordinator.

Since the early days of the HIV epidemic in 2001, CPN+ has provided PLHIV with important health information, service referral and peer support through community outreach and support groups. It has also worked towards reducing HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

CPN+ recognises the resilience, capacities, skills and resources of PLHIV and works towards promoting the meaningful involvement of PLHIV in the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies and programmes related to HIV. The remarkable gains in the global HIV response to date are largely due to the activism and mobilisation of PLHIV.

Marie-Odile Emond, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Country Coordinator, notes that “the rejuvenation of CPN+ will ensure that the PLHIV community continues to play a significant role in the national AIDS response. PLHIV are the front-runners and the backbone of this response and the positive outcomes and developments of this General Assembly will promote greater community solidarity and support.”

UNAIDS and KHANA have both been strong supporters and collaborators of CPN+ for many years, and have provided dedicated financial and technical support for CPN+’s recent institutional reforms. In addition, other partners such as UN Women and the Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+) supported CPN+ in the convening of its General Assembly.

 “The General Assembly is a critical milestone in CPN+’s institutional strengthening” says Sotheariddh. “It is a timely opportunity for members to renew their collective commitment to achieving CPN+’s vision of all Cambodian PLHIV living positive and healthy lives, empowered to assert and enjoy their rights, free from stigma and discrimination.”

On 7 November 2012, CPN+ held its one-day pre-GA meeting of CPN+ at KHANA office in Phnom Penh. Then there were forty-four members of CPN+ from provincial and municipal networks participated in the meeting. The draft of CPN+ by-laws was discussed and members provided comments, recommendations and inputs to the draft. People living with HIV expect that CPN+ will regain its place to represent voices of PLHIV.

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