A candlelight vigil for AIDS victims that ends this week saw hundreds of Cambodian women and children—victims of the disease—making pleas for food and other needs.
Not only do victims need life-saving medicine, said Nith Muy Teang, head of the Cambodian People's Alliance Against HIV-AIDS, they also need food to go with the medicine.
Victims of the disease face hunger and discrimination, he said.
One young orphan told VOA Khmer she and her surviving family of eight consume mostly rice supplemented with sweet potatoes they grow themselves. Meanwhile, classmates refuse to play with her, as she is stigmatized as having the disease.
People suffer most once they fully contract AIDS, said Sum Kim Sean, an official with the National Authority Against AIDS.
"When they get to the point of having AIDS, they cannot do anything," he said. "So what they rely on is food aid from civil society."