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Facts and confusion

The Editor,

I have followed the Phnom Penh Post stories exposing

pedophile activity and the subsequent letters to the editor. There are several

points of which we all need reminding. First, regardless of the reasons or

willingness of the children involved, they are still children. Their

personalities have not developed to the stage, in most cases, where they can

differentiate right from wrong, nor their bodies developed where orifices are

less likely to be damaged by sexual acts. Therefore, they risk severe

psychological damage through the sex and aggressive drives being stimulated

beyond ego development and through distortion of reality, leading to the defense

mechanisms of denial, rationalization, self-deception and dissociation, among

other problems. As the child matures, these defense mechanisms are likely to

continue and can lead to horrendous issues in the young adult's life, not the

least being alcohol or drug addiction, as the person attempts to escape


The physical damage can be even worse than the psychological

damage. This is the age of HIV/AIDS and despite popular myth, HIV/AIDS does not

discriminate between sexes or social classes or geographical boundaries. In

sub-Saharan Africa this killer disease, for which there is no cure, is spread

almost evenly between men and women and even in the USA, since the early days of

the epidemic, eight percent of the victims have been women. Women also catch HIV

and women also die from AIDS.

The psychological defense mechanisms of

self-deception and denial of reality apply equally to the abusers of children.

The most at risk groups for catching HIV are the middle classes between 18 and

35, who can afford to travel extensively. This group tends to think it is

immortal and is therefore more likely to take risks. Risks like engaging in

unsafe sex with under age children. Young people, earning too much money for

their own good and with no sense of self-responsibility, on holiday or business

in a strange country, are likely to let money and power go to their


Sex with underage children is about power and control in sexual

relations. Both lie with the abuser, not the abused. The point of this letter is

to remind readers that we are all at risk. Human nature is the same as it has

always been. Debauchery, deviance and deception are still the order of the day.

Therefore, we all have an interest in supporting NGOs helping to expose underage


Finally, I note that saliva is used to test for HIV in some

Southeast Asian countries. Apparently, it is quicker and just as reliable as the

Elisa-Western blot tests. This would seem to suggest that, if one can test for

HIV in saliva, then it must be possible to catch HIV from an exchange of saliva

fluids, such as in deep kissing. Do you know what your partner was doing last

night, last week or last month? Have you had an HIV test lately, or ever? Given

human weakness, can you trust your partner-male or female-completely and are you

betting your life on it.

- Brian Fitzjohn, Northern Territory University, Australia


World Health Organization (WHO) expert in Cambodia says that the HIV virus is

not present in saliva in concentrations high enough to cause infection, but

anti-bodies are present in such minute quantities that can be tested. One cannot

get HIV from deep kissing.- Ed.)



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