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

  • Second Hungary business forum set for H2

    Cambodia has asked Hungary to provide GSP- (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus facilities for when the Kingdom sheds its least-developed country (LDC) label, as the two countries prepare to hold a second business forum in the second half (H2) of this year to expand trade

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • Nearly 50 states join Kun Khmer Federation, all set for training

    In a little over a week, the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) has accepted membership requests from 20 new nations, in addition to the exiting 29. The sudden influx of international recognition stems from the Kingdom’s successful introduction of Kun Khmer to the 32nd Souheast Asian (

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports

  • CPP sets out five primary strategic goals for 2023-28

    The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on January 29 concluded its two-day extraordinary congress, setting the party’s priority goals for 2023-2028. The ruling party’s congress was attended by more than 3,000 members from across the Kingdom, including the members of the permanent and central committees,