Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou brought humanitarian aid packages to some 100 households living with HIV in the northeastern commune of Roka on December 23.

In 2014, an outbreak of HIV – the immunodeficiency virus that can lead to AIDS – in Sangke district’s Roka commune was caused by unlicensed medic Yem Chrin, who admitted to reusing unsterilised needles after treating an HIV-positive patient. As a result, more than 300 people were confirmed to be infected.

The relief packages were brought to the victims, in part as a belated commemoration of World AIDS Day on December 1, which was held this year under the theme: “Equalise”.

Addressing residents of Roka at a handover event, Lou called on the people to band together in eradicating AIDS as a significant public health threat by 2025, and encouraged youth to study hard, “avoid going in the wrong direction”, be “good role models” and help educate their peers.

Echoing a message from Cambodian Red Cross president Bun Rany, Lou called on youth to arm themselves with new knowledge on HIV prevention, and seek medical care in the event of a confirmed or suspected infection.

He suggested HIV-positive pregnant women have regular prenatal visits – four at the very least – to prevent perinatal transmission and ensure healthy development for their offspring.

Lou urged the public not to discriminate against those living with HIV or AIDS.