A 19-year-old HIV-positive man successfully bedded "a dozen" women and then
wedded a young girl in Phnom Penh mid-last month without telling any of them
about his disease.
His case highlights Cambodia's lack of a law
prohibiting the willful spread of HIV.
The man had spent weeks of misery
after he was diagnosed positive for the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV),
believed to cause Aids. But after spending $1,500 on a local "cure", he slept
with "a dozen" girls before getting engaged, according to a close
The Post published an article about the man in May last year. He
had told one of his friends: "There is no such disease as Aids, it's just the
worst state of syphilis."
The same friend who had talked to the Post in
May, said the man began the search for a "new love life" after having been told
by a local doctor that he had been cured.
Richard Renas, the World Health
Organization's technical officer for the Global Program on Aids denied that the
man would have been cured by a local doctor.
"The man's $1,500
expenditure was wasted, he was not cured by the treatment."
convinced he was cured of HIV, slept with "a dozen girls" before asking an
18-year-old girl living in Siem Reap to marry him. The girl accepted without the
knowledge of her parents in Battambang.
Born of a rich family, the man
invited hundreds of friends and relatives to his wedding but only two of the
bride's friends attended. The man's father refused his invitation because he was
unhappy with his son for being disobedient and extravagant with the family's
money, said the friend.
The man had told his family about his infection
and they spoiled him with money. Friends allege he spent - or possibly stole
- $3,000 of the family's money.
"I think one day when the symptoms of
Aids appear, he will realize that he was wrong," the friend said. "But it will
be too late."
The friend said immediately after the man was told of the
disease he "was trapped in extreme misery and sometimes even wanted to commit
"During the first month, he was very sad and cried every
night," said his close friend, who shared a bedroom in the man's
Before his diagnosis, the young man had fallen in love with one of
his cousins and planned to marry her, with the support of both the girl's and
his own parents.
However the man - fearing evil luck would be inflicted
on his fiancé - disrupted his engagement by provoking numerous arguments and
conflicts with her and her family.
In despair, he broke off the
engagement and gave $1,500 to a local doctor who eventually declared him
The man persuaded his girlfriend, who lived with her aunt and
uncle in Siem Reap, to be married in Phnom Penh.
Dr. Tea Phala, National
Program Manager of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Aids and STD Prevention
and Control [formerly the National Aids Committee], said he believed there were
many other similar cases which have yet to be uncovered.
however, he said there were no laws to punish people spreading the disease
"because it is impossible to identify all the people who are HIV-positive and
nobody could follow them all the time."
According to Renas, some
countries have laws prohibiting the spreading of infectious diseases such as
"Laws concerning HIV transmission are based on laws like that,"
In New Zealand, for example, an African-born musician who was
HIV-positive was arrested and jailed for sleeping with many women. He did not
tell his partners he was infected. It is yet unknown whether any of his partners
had become infected.
Renas said in the United States some states have
laws requiring couples to get counseling about sexually transmitted diseases
[STDs] and Aids before they get married.
According to a senior staff
member of the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh, there are some "advanced" Khmers
who had blood tests before getting married. But, only about five such people
appeared on her monthly registration.
Phala said there are some
approaches to help bring down the risk of infected people passing HIV to others.
One of the most important was pre-test and post-test
According to international law, he said, blood tests could
not be conducted unless the person gives written informed consent, but this was
not applied in Cambodia.
"We just ask them if they are happy with the
test; if they are, we will do it and if not it is up to them," he
Pre-test counseling explains what Aids is; how it is and is not
passed on; safe sex, and the advantages and disadvantages of the test, while
post-test counseling clarifies what HIV-negative and HIV-positive
"Some people think that they will die tomorrow if they are
HIV-positive," he said. "Others confuse the infected period [which can be brief
or last up to ten years] with the full-blown Aids."
The latest report by
the National Aids Program shows that 1,000 people in Cambodia have been reported
as having HIV antibodies. Phala estimated the real number of HIV-positive cases
is about 7,000.