HIV in Cambodia


The first case of HIV infection in Cambodia was reported in 1991 and this was followed by a rapid rise in transmission. Cambodia’s national HIV prevalence rate is now the highest in Asia. In such an impoverished country, where most marriages are still arranged by the family and prostitution is widespread, this is hardly surprising. NGOs have been tackling the problem for over a decade and as antiretroviral drugs become more widely available and prevention measures are introduced, the pace of the epidemic is slowing. Despite this initial success Cambodia now faces a new challenge. The Khmer Rouge genocide killed more than a 2 million people and Cambodia now has one of the youngest populations in the world. As the country modernises and customs become more relaxed, the disassociated youth are becoming increasingly at risk. A desocialised people, pre-marital sex, drug abuse and ignorance of the disease set a real challenge for the future development of the nation and the containment of the disease.