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Poipet AIDS Clinic Seeing Results, Health Officials Say

A recent AIDS clinic in the border town of Poipet has enrolled 666 HIV patients in the last 16 months, treating more than 300 with anti-retroviral therapy, officials said last week.

The clinic serves a critical function in a town whose economy is fueled by prostitution and border casinos that serve Thais on retreat. The town, which sits on the Thai border in Bantey Meanchey province, is regarded by many health officials as the center of Cambodia's AIDS epidemic.

Provincial Health Director Dr. Chhum Vannarith said HIV peaked in the province in 1998, but had declined by 2005.

Of those infected, 10 percent died in 1998, he said, but new therapies meant that in 2005, the latest figures available, 5 percent perished.

Much of that had to do with the clinic, which opened in December 2005, with assistance for USAID and the US Centers for Disease Control, officials said.