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Cambodia's Condom Campaign Faces Legal, Financial Issues, Health Official Says

September 11, 2008

Cambodia's so-called 100% Condom Use campaign is being threatened by legal and financial issues, and the country could experience a resurgence of the disease, a health official said on Wednesday, AFP/ reports. According to Tia Phalla of Cambodia's National AIDS Authority, the condom campaign -- which provides sex education and condoms to commercial sex workers -- is "facing difficulties" because of a new law against sex trafficking and inadequate financial support. Following the passage of the law in February, police began targeting brothels, which reportedly has forced sex workers to leave condoms as they move from location to location, AFP/ reports. "Enforcement of the anti-trafficking law harms the 100% condom use in brothels," Phalla said during an HIV/AIDS conference in the capital of Phnom Penh. According to a statement from the AIDS authority, the "main risk of a second wave of HIV infections occurring in Cambodia is from female sex workers, their clients and sweethearts."

According to AIDS authority data, the percentage of sex workers who consistently use condoms with clients decreased to 94% in 2007 from 96% in 2003. In addition, Phalla said that six of Cambodia's 24 provinces have the financial resources to conduct the campaign. Prior to the condom campaign, Cambodia's HIV/AIDS prevalence was recorded at 3.7% in 1997, while prevalence among sex workers was estimated at 40%. The condom campaign and other initiatives are believed to have contributed to the decrease in Cambodia's HIV/AIDS prevalence to 0.9%, according to AFP/ (AFP/, 9/10).

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