Last year on December 16th, news reports about an outbreak of HIV in Battambang province from Cambodia were sent to HealthMap. A Battambang small willage was at the center of those mysterious HIV cases. Villagers were subjected to health routine checks and after more than 100 Roka commune people tested positive for HIV, panic level increased. At first, the source was an enigma. The route of exposure was not a regular one because a lack of a pattern suggested likewise. The infected people were the ones over eighty years old to infants of four months. To highlight the pattern’s asymmetry, an infected boy of four years old had a twin brother that was tested negative for the disease.
The risk factors that sketches HIV’s infection pattern were not consistent in the Roka commune. HIV infection may pose a greater risk to certain groups all around the globe: young people or teenagers at their first sexual activity, drug users that utilize and share among them syringes or needles, people that have a low usage or do not use condoms at all. The risk factors mentioned above were not observed in Roka commune and an urgent investigation of the HIV outbreak was needed.
Currently there are 226 villagers tested positive for HIV and the number is rising. Cambodia Daily, a local newspaper, published on January 5th an article saying that some information from the ongoing investigation point to a potential suspect. The information was about a doctor with no license that infected the victims. In the region of the outbreak the medic Yem Chrin made house calls. The police said that the medic was believed to possess healing powers. He used to treat his patients with injections and, after being questioned, he admitted of reusing needles. The spreading of HIV by contaminated equipment made him to face charges of murder. Out of 1,940 people tested in Battamang province, 226 were discovered to have AIDS. Saturday the Cambodian government and international health agencies like UN AIDS and World Health Organization announced their findings, without mentioning the medic.
Mam Bunheng, Health Minister of the country, said that he wants to put an end to new AIDS infections in Cambodia by 2020. He also stated that “The Ministry of Health is ensuring health facilities to follow universal precautions and use clean and sterile equipment.”
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