Akashi Defends U.N. Peacekeepers’ Role in Spread of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia, Saying Not Accountable for HIV/AIDS Spread
Former chief of the U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia Yasushi Akashi yesterday said that U.N. peacekeepers and workers stationed in the country after the end of Cambodia's long civil war should not be held accountable for the "dramatic spread" of HIV/AIDS in the country, Kyodo News reports (Kyodo News, 7/11). A Danish television documentary, "And Then Came the United Nations," last year profiled the role of the U.N. mission in the spread of the disease, saying that before the U.N. mission arrived, drugs and brothels, two factors that facilitate the spread of the virus, were "rare" in the "virtually closed society" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/24/00). Speaking yesterday to reporters at the end of a visit to Cambodia, Akashi called the reports an "exaggeration." Prime Minister Hun Sen has "repeatedly" asserted that the 20,000 U.N. troops and workers escalated the spread of HIV in Cambodia, which now has one of the highest HIV infection rates in Asia, with an estimated 3% of the adult population believed to be positive (Kyodo News, 7/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.