Increased Crystal Meth Use Threatens Cambodia’s HIV/AIDS Progress, NGOs Say
Large-scale crystal methamphetamine use in Cambodia could present new challenges to the country's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, according to nongovernmental organizations working in the country, IRIN/PlusNews reports.
According to IRIN/PlusNews, studies have found that methamphetamine use is associated with high-risk sexual behavior, which can increase the risk of HIV transmission. In addition, preliminary research data has shown that methamphetamine use might accelerate the onset of HIV-related dementia or interfere with the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs. The increase in methamphetamine use in Cambodia "looms as a threat to reversing the HIV prevalence trend," Frederick Curtis, senior technical officer for drug use at Family Health International in Cambodia, said.
Cambodia's HIV prevalence decreased from 3.7% in 1997 to 0.9% in 2006, according to UNAIDS. However, 35.1% of injection drug users in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Pehn were HIV-positive in 2007, an increase from 14% in 2006, according to statistics from the National Authority for Combating Drugs (IRIN/PlusNews, 10/30).