Sixth HIV-Positive Villager Dies in Battambang

A 69-year-old man who was among the more than 240 villagers to test positive for HIV in Battambang province’s Roka commune died on Saturday, local health officials said Monday.

By Beng Sor, chief of the Roka commune health center, said that Tim Toy died on Saturday after experiencing side effects from the antiretroviral medication he had been given to treat the disease.

“The old man Tim Toy died on Saturday because he could not eat food,” said Mr. Beng Sor. “The side effects of his anti-HIV medicine made him unable to have food.”

Tim Toy is the sixth villager to die since December, when the mass outbreak of HIV in Roka first came to the attention of health officials.

Mr. Beng Sor said 241 villagers in the commune had tested positive for HIV as of the end of February.

“Right now there are four to five people over 60 years old who have been seriously sick because they also cannot eat food,” Mr. Beng Sor said, adding that these patients had been transferred to the provincial hospital.

Im Chetra, Sangke operational district health director, said he fears more deaths are looming.

“Now we are concerned about the health of the old people who have HIV because they are in bad health,” he said. “We have been thinking about the old people who have HIV and we are finding food [that they can eat] to support them.”

Officials have blamed the HIV outbreak on Yem Chrin, an unlicensed doctor who admitted to regularly reusing syringes, and who has been jailed on murder charges.

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