More than 1 million people are converging on Phnom Penh, Cambodia, this week for the nation’s annual water festival and boat race. This year, for the first time, HIV-positive Cambodians are crewing one of the 400 boats.
“We want to show that people living with HIV are normal people and capable of action like others who don’t have HIV,” said Sia Phearum, who is a member of a local HIV support network. The crew includes seven women and 38 men who are HIV-positive, plus 10 backup members who do not have HIV. The team’s boat features a banner reading, “Representing the voice of people living with HIV.” The team’s T-shirts bear the slogan “Turn discrimination into action.”
“Even if we do not win the race, we can still win the fight against AIDS,” said Horn Saveth, a female participant who has been living with HIV for five years.