With as many as two million people from 167 countries currently infected with the
virus that causes the incurable disease Aquired Immune Difficiency Syndrome (AIDS)-and
a dire prediction that 10 million people worldwide will be infected by the year 2000-the
annual World AIDS Day commemoration held on Dec. 1 highlighted the urgent need for
a wider understanding of the virus and how it is contracted.
World AIDS Day was observed with a conference at the Faculty of Medicine of Phnom
Penh University, where pamphlets and posters to be distributed around the country
were on display. Health officials and NGO health workers spoke about the need to
educate the population about AIDS.
"After 20 years of war, Cambodians have been suffering," said Prince Norodom
Chakrapong, deputy prime minister and representative of the Council of Ministers,
addressing the conference. "Now Cambodians-especially our young people-are threatened
by the effects of the virus that causes AIDS."
Of the 10 million people expected to be infected with HIV worldwide by the year 2000,
WHO says 4 million are expected to have full-blown AIDS and one million will have
died from the disease by then.
According to a report by Cambodia's Pasteur Institute 65 Cambodians are currently
infected with HIV, and the National Blood Transfusion Centre had discovered 45 clients
infected with the HIV virus.
Pamphlets and posters will be distributed in Phnom Penh, and radio and television
announcements will broadcast information about AIDS.