Cambodia Has Highest HIV Prevalence Rate in Asia; Government Making Strides to Curb Disease Spread
Cambodia has the highest HIV prevalence rate in Asia, but the government is "making major inroads" in its fight against the disease, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. UNAIDS figures show that out of a population of 12 million, 160,000 people between ages 15 and 49 are HIV-positive, and 80,000 people have already died from AIDS-related illnesses. The government projects that number will reach 230,000 by 2010, according to the Chronicle. But a "multi-faceted" campaign launched by the government has helped to reduce the HIV prevalence rate among adults in the country. Tia Phalia, secretary-general of the government's National AIDS Authority, said that the number of new HIV infections among Cambodians has fallen from 110 daily in 1994 to 20 a day in 2002. One reason is the government's call for all brothels, which are legal in the country, to require sex workers "to insist on the use of condoms," the Chronicle reports. Cambodia's female sex workers have a 40% HIV prevalence rate -- the highest in the country, according to UNAIDS statistics. Most advocates say that the country needs to tackle its "weak economy and lack of infrastructure" before the government can do more to stem the spread of the disease. Hor Bun-leng, deputy director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs said, "Poverty drives HIV, and HIV drives poverty, like a cycle" (Schnayerson, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.