The National AIDS Authority (NAA) has denied recent social media claims of a serious outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the country. It said Cambodia averages just four new infections a day.
The claims, shared to social media by the Facebook account NX Vanlyda which has around 6,000 followers, alleged that more than 1,000 people are infected daily.
“Over 1,000 people were infected with HIV today. What will happen to women and children if husbands cheat and have many partners?” said the July 28 post.
Chhim Khindareth, NAA secretary-general, said on August 6 that based on a study by the NAA last year, there are about 76,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Cambodia, of which 1,400 were new infections. The figures equate to roughly four new infections each day.
“The information that was posted to Facebook suggested that daily infections may be as high as 1,000, which is totally untrue. We are concerned and afraid that the public may be under the misconception that more than 1,000 people get infected per day, when in fact the figure is closer to four,” he added.
He said the NAA’s findings identified key populations as being most at risk. They included men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, people who use and inject drugs, and female entertainment workers.
“Both the NAA and the Ministry of Health conduct educational programmes within these target demographics, in order to reduce the number of infections,” he added.
He also noted that the NAA has taken many measures to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and has called on the capital and provincial AIDS committees and the health ministry to work together as one to disseminate the information.
“In addition, it is important that people know that both HIV tests and antiretroviral treatment are free of charge in Cambodia. The government will provide free treatment, and offers equity cards to all PLHIV,” he said.
According to an April joint press release – from the NAA, the health ministry, the National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs (NCHADS), and the UNAIDS Multicountry Office of Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia – of the Kingdom’s 76,000 PLHIV at the end of 2022, 74,000 were aged over 15, while 2,000 were under 15 years old. It noted that 86 per cent were aware of their HIV/AIDS status, while an estimated 11,000 were unaware that they were living with HIV/AIDS.