HIV/AIDS kill more than 1,300 Cambodians in 2018

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) – HIV/AIDS had killed more than 1,300 people in Cambodia in 2018, down 48 percent from over 2,500 deaths in 2010, Ieng Mouly, chairman of the National AIDS Authority, said yesterday.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Speaking at an event marking the World AIDS Day, Mouly said some 880 people became newly infected with HIV last year, down 62 per cent from 2,300 nine years ago.

“We have seen continued success in combating HIV/AIDS in the last decade, and we are seeking about USD20 million a year from 2020 in order to achieve our target of ending HIV/AIDS in Cambodia by 2025,” he said.

Currently, the Southeast Asian nation has an estimated 73,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and about 81 per cent of them have received antiretroviral drugs, according to the National AIDS Authority.

Pauline Tamesis, resident coordinator of the United Nations (UN) in Cambodia, said despite these immense achievements, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is not yet over.

In 2018, 25 per cent of new HIV infections were among people with same sex relationship, more than three-fold increase from seven per cent in 2010, she said.

Thuon Sarim, who contracted the virus from her husband in 2000, said discrimination against people living with HIV had now declined remarkably if compared to that two decades ago.

“About 20 years ago, in some cases, when an HIV carrier sat on his neighbour’s bed, and soon after he left the bed, the neighbour took the bed to burn down,” she said. “In another case, when an HIV patient drank water at his relative’s home, and soon after the patient left the home, the relative threw away the mug the patient had used.

“People feared the virus spread to them. They did not understand about the ways HIV spread at that time,” said Sarim, who lives in Southern Takeo province.

Now, she said people in her community are better aware of the ways HIV spread, and they no longer discriminated against her and other patients. According to a recent survey conducted by the National AIDS Authority, job discrimination against the people living with HIV had dropped from 46 per cent in 2010 to two per cent last year, while verbal harassment against them had declined from 14 per cent to three per cent during the same period.