PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) – The number of villagers tested positive for HIV in a remote Roka commune in northwest Cambodia’s Battambang province has exceeded 160, a local official confirmed Thursday.
Roka commune’s deputy chief Soeum Chhom said three villages in the commune have been hit by the outbreak, which officials have pinned blame on an unlicensed doctor, Yem Chrin, who allegedly used unsterilised needles and reused syringes on patients. “In Roka village, 143 people tested positive for HIV, in Ambeng Thnge village, more than 20 tested positive, and in Tahen Muoy village, two children tested positive,” he told Xinhua over telephone.
Soeun Chhom, who has been collecting signatures and thumbprints from those who tested positive for a compilation of an official data, said all the victims used to receive medical injections from the suspected doctor.
The Battambang Provincial Court on Monday charged 56-year-old Yem Chrin, who was arrested last week, with “murder with cruel act”, which could face life imprisonment if convicted. “We accused him of intentionally spreading HIV, conducting murder with cruel act, and doing medical business without a license from the Ministry of Health,” a court’s prosecutor Nuon San said Monday.
Residents in the commune have flocked to a commune health center to have their blood tested since Dec 8 after a 74-year-old man, who tested positive for HIV in November, alerted others who used to receive medical injections from the suspected doctor to get tested.
Cambodia launched a full probe into the mass HIV infections last Thursday. So far, no any information has been released by the investigation team, which comprises the experts of the Cambodian Health Ministry, the World Health Organisation, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, UNAIDS, and Pasteur Institute in Cambodia. a