Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Huge AIDS death toll foreseen

Huge AIDS death toll foreseen

Huge AIDS death toll foreseen

By 2010 as many as 236,000 Cambodians will have died because of AIDS if there is

still no medical remedy, says Tia Phalla, secretary general at the National AIDS

Authority (NAA).

Phalla told a media advisory forum that in Cambodia about 170,000 people are living

with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)

today and about 90,000 people have already died.

Ing Kantha Phavi, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Women's and Veteran's Affairs,

said Cambodian household females are contracting HIV at a higher rate than men now,

suggesting that their husbands are bringing the virus home. The women stay in their

houses, not knowing what sexual contacts their husbands are having.

Ly Po, vice chairman of NAA, said: "Even though we have a strong organization

for public service, we support distribution of low-cost and free materials to the

public such as condoms, HIV medicines and so forth. HIV/AIDS prevention cannot be

successful if there is a lack of public understanding about the problem."

Chok Sophy, 36, said she knew in 1993 her husband had AIDS but didn't know it could

infect other people. Her husband has died leaving her with three children. She has

AIDS, and has difficulty walking and raising one arm.

Hel Ra, 36, living at Lor Kambor village in Russey Keo district, said she had got

the virus from her husband who died two years ago.

"I was very surprised to find I was HIV positive, and when my neighbors were

told, they avoided me," said Ra.

She has home care support from the Key of Social Health Educational Road (KOSHER).

She washes clothes and dishes for money to care for her 10-year-old son.

She said she had watched a TV program at her neighbor's about discrimination on people

living with HIV/AIDS. Now people were aware of HIV/AIDS they did not look down on

her.

Ly Po said media had the power to reduce the number of people infected and also to

educate people to stop discrimination against people with the virus.

The Post spoke to Sieng Channa, 21, in Prek Pnov village, Ponhea Leu district, in

Kandal province.

Channa, now an AIDS victim and seven months pregnant, said she was cheated by a fruit

seller when she was 17 years old.

He persuaded her mother to allow him to take Channa to Battambang to help him sell

fruit. But in Battambang he sold her to a businessman for sex. After a few days the

businessman discarded her, and she returned to Prek Pnov But the businessman had

made her pregnant - and given her AIDS.

Her son, now five years old, was born HIV-positive.

About a year ago she married another man, by whom she is now pregnant.

"I want to take the baby out, but I have no money," said Channa.

She heard radio talk shows about AIDS education but never thought it would happen

to her.

She and her son are supported by KOSHER.

Nguon San, Director of KOSHER, said his organization provided home care support to

568 people living with HIV/AIDS in two districts, Russey Keo and Tuol Kork. Among

them are 36 children under age ten.

"Most of people living with HIV/AIDS were infected from a husband; some are

sex workers," said Nguon San. "The home care program is provided only to

poor people who are unable to support themselves".

San said the number of people living with HIV/AIDS coming to his office was increasing

every month. He said 86 patients were receiving the life-prolonging anti-retroviral

medicines.

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