HIV Cases in Kandal Not An Outbreak, Ministry Says

Amid fears of an HIV epidemic in Kandal province’s Sam­buor Meas commune, where 14 people tested positive for the virus earlier this month, the Ministry of Health, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) de­clared on Thursday that the cases were not in­dicative of an outbreak.

Ten people from Peam village and four in two neighboring villages were confirmed to be HIV pos­itive this month after tests at Sam­dech Euv referral hospital in Phnom Penh, prompted by on-the-ground testing conducted by NGO Khemara on February 13 that un­covered a worrying number of previously unknown cases.

In response, officials from the Min­istry of Health’s National Cen­ter for HIV/AIDS, Derma­tol­ogy and STD Con­trol (NCHADS) and the provincial health department carried out their own tests on Monday, finding four positive cases in 279 people, about a quarter of Peam village’s total population.

In the statement released on Thursday, the ministry, together with UNAIDS and the WHO, concluded that the newly discovered cases did not indicate an outbreak.

“Among the 279 individuals tested were 112 children, none of them had a positive HIV test result,” the statement said. “The data are not in­dicative of an HIV outbreak.”

Ly Penh Sun, head of NCHADS, ex­plained that the scope of Mon­day’s tests was broad enough to dismiss fears of an epidemic.

“I think one quarter of the people com­ing to test is enough to indicate …there is not a link to an outbreak,” Mr. Penh Sun said.

“None of [the children] are HIV in­fected. If there was something like Roka, some would be infected,” he said, referring to an outbreak in Bat­tambang prov­ince, discovered in late 2014, in which about 270 people were found to be infected by a local medic who reused needles and syringes.

Marie-Odile Emond, UNAIDS coun­try director, also said that testing a quarter of Peam village of­fered conclusive evidence.

“Among all the people tested, there were few infections detected with­out significant difference to the na­tional average,” Ms. Emond said.

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