The National Center for HIV/ AIDS Dermatology and STD has begun the 11th cycle of the HIV Sentinel Sero-Survey to estimate the prevalence rate of HIV infection in two key female groups: pregnant women and night entertainment workers, a senior official said.
NCHADS Director Mean Chhi Vun said the survey will target between 80,000 and 100,000 pregnant women visiting health clinics and hospitals nationwide and some 20,000 women who work in the sex industry, karaoke parlors and beer promotion business.
The 10th cycle of the HIV Sentinel Sero-Survey in 2006 found that among the general population, for those aged 15 to 49 years, the rate of infection was 0.9 percent, a dramatic drop on the 2 percent prevalence rate found in 1998, Dr Chhi Vun said on Friday.
“Now we are doing the 11th cycle of the 2010-2011 HIV Sentinel Sero-Survey throughout the country to get the exact figure of the HIV/ AIDS prevalence rate among the general population,” Dr Chhi Vun said.
“Although we have seen a decline in the prevalence rate among pregnant women and the general population, we all—funding partners and concerned NGOs—need to continue working hard on prevention programs and care efforts because there is no cure or vaccine” for HIV, he said.
Dr Chhi Vun also said that alongside the prevalence rate survey there is also the Behavioral Sentinel Survey, which is in its seventh cycle, and which aims to measure the public’s knowledge of HIV/AIDS as well as its behavior regarding prevention.
The behavioral survey has found that between 95 and 97 percent of people are familiar with HIV/AIDS, while 85 to 93 percent know about HIV/ AIDS prevention, Dr Chhi Vun said. The decline in HIV infection recorded in the overall population is likely linked to the survey’s findings that of 2,000 female entertainment workers surveyed, 97 percent reported using condoms with customers at all times.
But the continuing problem, Dr Chhi Vun said, is that the same women reported they only used condoms less than 50 percent of the time when having sex with boyfriends.
“They think their boyfriends are good. But those men make friends and have sex with other women too,” he said. “The big concern for us now is those entertainment workers.”