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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bun Rany recommends abstinence

Bun Rany recommends abstinence

081204_04_2.jpg
081204_04_2.jpg

Prime minister's wife says individual self-control is a crucial factor in the fight against HIV/Aids

Photo by:
Heng Chivoan

A young participant at a World AIDS Day event in Phnom Penh on Monday.

CAMBODIA's first lady, Bun Rany Hun Sen, has warned HIV/Aids campaigners that distributing free condoms may stimulate the nation's sexual appetite, claiming traditional moral practices, such as abstaining from sex until marriage, are more useful tools in the global fight against Aids.

"In my opinion, condom handouts should not be done too much as individuals need to be able to think for themselves," the prime minister's wife told participants at a World Aids Day event on Monday held in Hun Sen Park.

"Even if the government calls for a fight against Aids, it is not the most important factor - the spread of HIV/Aids is greatly reliant on the self- control of the individual.

"People who like sex must use condoms, but I think they must also consider reducing the number of sexual partners they engage with to reduce the risk," said Bun Rany, who is  also president of the Cambodian Red Cross.

Chhay Sophal, communication consultant for the local NGO Khana, said the purpose of NGOs is not to stimulate sexual desire, but that this may, unintentionally, be a result of their efforts to reduce HIV/Aids in the Kingdom.

"[Stimulating sexual desire] is not our objective. As NGOs we always check with the social environment before doing anything," Chhay Sophal said.

Opposition parliamentarian  Mu Sochua says NGOs should not reduce handouts of condoms, as there is still much work to be done to combat the threat of HIV/Aids in the Kingdom. As of 2006, infection rates stood at 0.9 percent of the population, according to UNAids figures.

"It is [the NGOs'] responsibility to expand the knowledge of Aids and HIV for people in the whole country," she said.

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