Law Aims to Stop HIV/AIDS Misinformation

passed this week, Cambo­dia’s first-ever HIV/AIDS law would give law enforcement officials “stronger legal power” to prevent misinformation about how AIDS is spread and treated.

The law would also control the un­authorized circulation in Phnom Penh’s markets of anti-ret­roviral AIDS drugs that can be used to stave off the disease.

Opposition lawmakers called on the government to confiscate fake AIDS drugs from market vendors and pharmacies. Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Sam Sun­doeun said many Cambo­dians have been cheated out of their money by buying the drugs.

In recent years, traditional Khmer doctors have told patients they are able to cure AIDS, and have advertised their treatments without government regulation. Many Cambodians do not realize that there is no cure for AIDS.

Advertisements concerning HIV/AIDS first must be ap­proved by the National AIDS Au­thority, the law states. Any ad­vertise­ment that guarantees HIV/AIDS can be cured is forbidden, unless it abides by measures set up by the NAA and international medical principles.

The draft law also states that housing, education, travel, financial credit, insurance, running for pub­lic office, health care and burial ceremonies cannot be denied to someone because he or she has HIV/AIDS. The privacy of those who have taken an HIV test will be ensured.

Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay urged the government to look at the root causes behind the spread of AIDS, such as poverty. The AIDS epidemic in Cambodia, where 168,000 people are estimated to have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has hindered economic development, according to Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot. He said Cambo­dia has 8,000 hospital beds in which to treat AIDS patients, but needs 20,000 beds.

Meanwhile, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ran­ariddh and other assembly members applauded UNAIDS country program adviser Geoff Manthey, who is leaving Cambodia for a post at the UNAIDS office in Geneva at the end of the month after three years of service here.


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