Eighth Villager Dies in HIV-Stricken Roka Commune

An 89-year-old woman who was among the more than 240 villagers to test positive for HIV in Battambang province’s Roka commune died Monday, bringing the total number of deaths since the outbreak was first detected in December to eight.

Commune chief Sim Pov identified the woman as Tat Chhory and said that she was likely also suffering from tuberculosis. “She died because she has many other diseases,” Ms. Pov said.

“She was also very old.”

Five other elderly villagers, a baby, and Roka’s deputy commune chief have also died since the outbreak was detected. Officials have blamed the epidemic on Yem Chrin, an unlicensed doctor who admitted to regularly reusing syringes, and who is facing murder charges.

Vin Bith, chief of Roka commune’s Roka village, said that Tat Chhory is the seventh HIV-positive person to die in his village since December.

“Her health deteriorated since she found out that she tested positive for HIV,” Mr. Bith said.

“She died because of her old age and some other diseases besides HIV. When I see them die one by one, I feel saddened.”

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