Two More HIV-Positive Roka Commune Residents Die

Two elderly women who were among the 236 villagers to test positive for HIV in Battambang province’s Roka commune died last week, a health official and aid worker said Monday.

Ly Penh Sun, director of the Health Ministry’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD, said a 74-year-old woman died last Tuesday and a 75-year-old woman on Thursday, both of whom had been gravely ill.

“Both of them had very serious diarrhea…. And both of them refused to go to the hospital,” said Mr. Penh Sun, adding that the two women had begun antiretroviral therapy (ART) for their HIV infection.

“We needed to give them ARTs so maybe they would get better, but in this case they did not,” he said.

Tith Khimuy, project director for Khana, an HIV prevention and support NGO, said the 74-year-old had chronic diarrhea and that the 75-year-old was suffering from pneumonia.

The deaths of the two women follow those of a 73-year-old woman and a 7-month-old girl in January, bringing to four the number of HIV-positive villagers in Sangke district’s Roka commune who have now died.

Officials have blamed the HIV outbreak on Yem Chrin, an unlicensed doctor who admitted to regularly reusing syringes and who faces life in prison on murder charges.

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