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Cambodian Man Faces Charges in HIV Outbreak

FILE – A patient diagnosed with HIV rests at the Khmer-Soviet Hospital in Phnom Penh, Nov. 29, 2011.

Cambodian officials say a man in Battambang province has been arrested and charged with infecting at least 140 people with HIV in what authorities described as "cruel murder."

Authorities said Yem Chrin, 55, had been in custody since last week and was charged Monday following an investigation into the outbreak in Roka commune.

Police said Yem Chrin was operating an unlicensed clinic and was not licensed as a doctor.

Battambang’s police chief, Sar Thet, said Yem Chrin confessed to using the same syringe and sometimes the same needle on patients.

The Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh has confirmed 140 HIV infections in Roka.

Mean Chhivun, director of the National AIDS Authority, said many elderly are among those infected and an investigation continues to learn the extent of the outbreak. Health officials have been administering tests to worried villagers for two weeks.

Those residing in Roko commune in Battambang province are not considered at high risk, said Marie-Odile Edmond, Cambodia’s country director for UNAIDS, the lead United Nations organization combating the disease.

Cambodia’s government previously had announced a goal of no new HIV infections by 2020.