Blaming men for spreading HIV/AIDS to their wives and Untac soldiers for doing the same to female sex workers in Cambodia in the early 1990s, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife, Bun Rany, launched a handbook aimed at improving understanding of the virus among parliamentarians at the National Assembly on Friday.
In an aside from her set speech at the launch of the handbook, Ms Rany told of how Cambodia first encountered the disease in a female adult in 1991.
“Husbands were too obsessed with sexual interaction to care about the effects of HIV/AIDS,” Ms Rany said, claiming that the original sources of the disease was a soldier with the Untac mission, which administered the country’s transition to democracy between 1992 and 1993.
“Most of the cases of HIV/AIDS have come from the husbands or males to the women,” Ms Rany continued. Quoting statistics provided by the Ministry of Health and the UN Development Program, Ms Rany added that until 1998 the disease infected 2 percent-some 100,000 people-of adults aged 15 to 49. Measures introduced by the government had reduced this to 0.7 percent-some 50,000 people-last year, but more needs to be done, she said.
The premier’s wife then took aim at night clubs, where she said naked dancing takes place.
“In the city there are big clubs that do illegal activities like nude dancing. We need measures to stop these activities. We do not want to blame the chiefs of the communes for having these clubs because sometimes they pay law officers to not shut them down,” Ms Rany said, without identifying any establishment by name.
According to the UNDP, Cambodia is one of the few least developed countries in the world to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
While Cambodia has already achieved the UN Millennium Development Goal to halt the spread of HIV by 2015, the government has yet to meet its national universal access targets for prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Developed over three years, the handbook, released on Friday, is a tool to help lawmakers disseminate correct information to their constituents about the virus and to help meet the universal access targets.