Official Says Cambodia Faces New HIV Threat With Condom Campaign at Risk
September 10, 2008
A police crackdown on prostitution and a lack of funding are threatening the continued success of Cambodia's program of 100 percent condom use among sex workers, a health official said Wednesday.
Before the launch of the program, which provides sex education and condoms to sex workers, Cambodia had the region's worst HIV prevalence rate. In 1997, the infection rate was 3.7 percent, and among sex workers it was an estimated 40 percent. Cambodia's condom promotion and sex education campaign has been cited as helping to reduce the overall prevalence rate to 0.9 percent.
However, the program "is facing difficulties" because of a new sex-trafficking law and inadequate funding, Tia Phalla of Cambodia's National AIDS Authority (NAA) said at a three-day national AIDS conference in Phnom Penh.
Only six of the country's 24 provinces and cities have the finances to implement the policy, Phalla said. And since February, when the trafficking law passed, police actions have reportedly driven sex workers to leave condoms behind as they move from place to place. "Enforcement of the anti-trafficking law harms the 100 percent condom use in brothels," he noted.
"The main risk of a second wave of HIV infections occurring in Cambodia is from female sex workers, their clients, and sweethearts," according to NAA.
Agence France Presse