HIV infection rates are declining in the general population and among sex workers in particular, according to a recent report by Population Services International, showing a reversal that health officials lauded Sunday as the payoff to years of condom promotion and AIDS education aimed at high-risk groups.
But new infections are cropping up among groups that have not been as heavily targeted as sex workers, and those same officials say further efforts are needed to combat the spread of the virus.
Although still the highest in Asia, HIV prevalence in Cambodia has dropped from 3.3 percent in 1998 to 2.6 percent in 2002, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to a report released last week from PSI, an NGO that markets health products at subsidized prices.
HIV infection among sex workers plunged from 42.6 percent to 28.8 percent in that same amount of time, the report stated.
While the numbers show a “huge improvement,” PSI country representative Barry Whittle said Sunday that the groups of people becoming infected with the disease are changing.
Married women are among the fastest growing demographic of HIV infections, said Dr Tia Phalla, secretary general of the National AIDS Authority. Intervention now is needed among housewives and married men who visit brothels and transmit the disease to their spouses, he said.
Among pregnant women visiting prenatal clinics, the infection rate rose from 2.6 percent in 2000 to 2.8 percent in 2002, said Dr Mean Chhi Vun, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STIs.