HIV Infections Nearly Doubled Over Past Decade

The number of new HIV infections in Cambodia nearly doubled over the past decade—the greatest increase in Asia—while less than a third of Cambodians living with the virus are receiving medication to slow its development, according to a report released this week.

The study, carried out by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, states that the number of new HIV cases in Cambodia grew by an average of 6.6 percent annually between 2005 and 2015, even as rates declined in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The number of people living with HIV in Cambodia, meanwhile, grew from 54,880 to 82,970 over the same period, while the number of people who died from AIDS rose from 1,810 to 2,600, according to the report.

Of those living with HIV, only 30 percent are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is vital to slowing the development of the virus, according to a statement released with the report.

“The transmission rates of HIV in Cambodia [are] still high. The country should focus more on stronger preventive efforts and universal access of ART treatment, and curbing the transmission among injecting drug users,” Soewarta Kosen, a policy researcher at Indonesia’s National Institute of Health Research and Development, who worked on the study, said in the statement.

Nuon Sidara, a project coordinator at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said that while the government had been successful in stemming an HIV epidemic in the 1990s, it needed to do more to halt the current rise in infections.

“Sadly, we are now seeing that funding for HIV/AIDS programs is drying up in Cambodia, and I fear that this is part of the reason we are seeing HIV/AIDS infection rates increasing so much,” he said.

“While prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS should be passed gradually on to the government, we continue to see an enormous over-reliance on civil society, which is struggling to meet demand.”

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