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HIV Outbreak Linked to Infected Needles

Cambodian Government Says HIV Outbreak Linked to Needle Reuse
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A government-led investigation into the widespread HIV outbreak in Battambang province has concluded, finding that the spread of the virus came from multiple injections with infected needles.

In total, 1,940 people in Roka commune had their blood tested in the last month; 212 tested positive for the virus, health officials said Monday.

“The study showed that the percentage of people that reported receiving an injection or intravenous infusion as part of their health treatment was significantly higher among the people who tested positive for HIV than the people who were HIV negative,” the Cambodian Health Ministry’s National Center for HIV/AIDS said in a joint statement with the World Health Organization and UNAIDS. “Thi difference is statistically significant.”

Of the 212 Roka commune residents who tested positive for HIV, 18 percent were under 14, and 22 percent were over the age of 60; 82 percent came from the commune’s Roka village.

“There are test to detect HIV transmission through the sexual relationship, injections, intravenous infusions, and blood infusions,” Ly Penh Sun, deputy director of the Center for HIV/AIDS said. “And the factors found are the intravenous injections and infusions.”

An unlicensed doctor in Roka village, Yem Chrin, has been charged with murder and faces life in prison for allegedly spreading the disease. He has admitted to regularly re-using needles for injections. In a Dec. 18 police raid authorities seized dozens of used syringes and needles.