Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Aids workers fears over vice crackdown

Aids workers fears over vice crackdown

Aids workers fears over vice crackdown

A IDS and health workers expressed alarm at the prospect of prostitution going underground just as health education services and medical facilities were beginning to reach reluctant prostitutes.

A survey conducted by the health workers at Tuol Kork's Dike Community Clinic over the first year of their functioning - between June 1993 and June 1994 - confirms some of those fears. Preliminary results show that though awareness about Aids among prostitutes increased from about 21 per cent to 61 per cent during the year, about 60 per cent said that while they had heard of Aids, they did not know what to do to prevent it.

"They were very reluctant to come to us in the beginning, they were too ashamed. When we started the clinic last year, we got just three or four patients every day but before the ban it had gone up to 20-25," says Dr Ouk Vong Vathiny, a doctor at the clinic. "But after the ban, the number had gone down to two [per day] in early September."

The survey's preliminary results show that prostitutes had an average of five clients each every day, with differences ranging from one to 18 daily. Only about 20 per cent claimed that they use condoms all the time.

"The prostitutes will now probably go to nightclubs, restaurants or bars and the owners will refuse to accept they are prostitutes, they will pretend they are daughters and nieces," says Dr Tea Phalla, manager of the National Aids Program at the Ministry of Health. "We will not be able to access them for health education or condom distribution.

"We would also like to see prostitution go away, but that is too ambitious. I think it is more realistic to register prostitutes and aim for 100 per cent condom use," he adds.

While there is no comprehensive recent survey on the percentage of prostitutes with Aids in the capital, Dr. Vathiny says health workers estimate it could be as high as 50 per cent. She says most of those coming to her clinic have two or more STDs, often including Aids.

A recent survey by WHO and the Ministry of Health in one province (officials would not reveal its name) revealed that as many as 38 per cent of the prostitutes are HIV positive.

"This is much worse than we ever expected, I thought it would not exceed 20 per cent," Dr Phalla says.

He fears the situation could be as bad or even worse in Banteay Meanchey and Koh Kong.

"Koh Kong, especially, is easily accessible from Thailand and to fishermen and sailors and is cut off from the rest of the country because there is no road," he points out. Similar surveys are expected soon in other provinces.

In an indication of the importance of the issue, Prince Ranariddh himself will represent Cambodia at an International conference on AIDS organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the French government in Paris in early December, Phalla said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer