Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mobile phones could be anti-HIV tool: study

Mobile phones could be anti-HIV tool: study

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Entertainment workers surf their phones while waiting for customers in Phnom Penh. A recent study reveals that cell phone alerts could help promote healthy behaviour among female entertainment workers. Heng Chivoan

Mobile phones could be anti-HIV tool: study

Mobile phone technology could be an effective means to promote improved health practices among Cambodia’s female entertainment workers and help curb the spread of HIV, according to a new study conducted by the organisation KHANA and the Center for Global Health Research at Touro University in California.

The ubiquity of mobile phones in Cambodia makes it increasingly easy for health-related texts and voice messages to reach at-risk populations, the study found. In 2015, the number of mobile phones in Cambodia exceeded the country’s population by about 6 million.

Fifty-one percent of the country’s female entertainment workers, a population identified as at risk of contracting HIV due to their frequent involvement in sex work, said they send text messages daily.

Almost all of the women surveyed, 98 percent, also said they feel comfortable receiving private, health-related messages despite the fact that many share their phones with others.

“While most participants did not have a passcode or lock, most report being somewhat comfortable to very comfortable with receiving health information in text messages on their phone,” the study found. “Most of the participants had positive remarks about potential health message interventions.”

According to Tia Phalla, deputy director of the National AIDS Authority, mobile phone messages have the potential to educate at-risk populations about ways to prevent HIV.

“We want to eliminate HIV by 2025, and we think mobile phones could be a part of that,” Phalla said.

A systematic review of text-messaging health projects published by the US National Library of Medicine found that the majority of text-message interventions have “statistically significant positive effects on health outcomes and/or behaviors”.

But not everyone was as optimistic about the potential of these interventions to work for Cambodia’s female entertainment workers.

Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, said he encountered little success when trying to use mobile technologies to rally female entertainment workers around labour issues.

“We tried to develop applications to let them report violations and problems at the workplace, but that didn’t work very well,” Mora said.

“I think one of the problems is literacy. A lot of entertainment workers cannot read and write, so they have trouble using the technology.”

The study acknowledges low literacy rates among entertainment workers, noting that voice messages may be preferable to text in many cases.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the