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Cambodia Investigates Village's High HIV Rate


FILE - An HIV-positive patient rests at the Khmer-Soviet Hospital in Phnom Penh.

FILE - An HIV-positive patient rests at the Khmer-Soviet Hospital in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian health officials are investigating an alarmingly high rate of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in a remote village.

At least 82 people have tested positive for HIV in Rokar, Battambang province, which has a population of 2,000 people.

Officials said they suspected a village health care worker used a shared syringe to treat people, spreading the infection.

Teng Kunthy, secretary-general of the Cambodia National AIDS Authority, said health workers had tested about 650 people so far.

"Our investigation focuses on infection related to the sharing of needles and drug injection," he said. "We are looking for evidence to take measure."

Health workers were alerted to the problem in the village when an elderly man and woman were found to be HIV positive this month.

Battambang Governor Chan Sophal told VOA that health officials were trying to determine precisely how the infection had spread.

“It shouldn’t have happened," he said. "I am worried, and we are working hard to find out how and why it happened."

Cambodia has made progress in lowering its HIV and AIDS infection rates from a high of nearly 2 percent in 1998. The country is aiming for a zero percent infection rate by 2020, down from its current rate of about 0.7 percent.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

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