Impoverished Cambodians whose relatives die of HIV/AIDS may be entitled to payments from the government under a new scheme, a senior government official has said.
Ngy Chan Phal, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, said that the plan would see HIV/AIDS-affected Cambodians receive an identity card that entitles their family to payouts after their death.
“We are worried about the next generation if someone in the family who is HIV-positive dies and leaves their children with no one to support them,” he said. “So we will select them [for the scheme] if they are very poor, and they will get a poverty identity card to get funds from the government.”
The scheme was announced along with figures showing a steady drop in the HIV rate in Cambodia, falling from 0.7 per cent in 2013 to 0.6 per cent this year, according to Ieng Moly, chairman of the National AIDS Authority.
“The AIDS situation in Cambodia will improve and the infection rate will drop to 0.4 per cent in the near future,” he said.
Five years ago, more than 40 HIV/AIDS-affected families from Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community were trucked to the village of Tuol Sambo, where they were left to live in 3.5-metre-by-4.5-metre corrugated metal sheds.
He added that the government continued to work towards improving medical care for HIV/AIDS patients and to provide accommodation where they can avoid discrimination.
“We give them places to live away from the community, because when they live in the community, they always get discrimination from the public,” he said.
The figures suggest that much has improved since the AIDS epidemic was reported in the late 1990s.
In 1997, the Ministry of Health predicted that 40,000 Cambodians would die of AIDS in the three years until the year 2000.
In May, the UN said that while Cambodia had taken significant steps to combat HIV/AIDS, more than 60,000 people were still at risk of contracting the virus.