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Cambodian PM orders probe into mass HIV infections


PHNOM PENH – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday ordered experts to thoroughly look into the case of mass HIV infections in a commune of northwestern Cambodia.
The prime minister has called on the public not to panic over the incident.
“Up to this hour, I still do not believe that such mass HIV infections could happen.
“It is unbelievable that 106 out of about 800 simple villagers were tested positive for HIV,’’ he said during a graduation ceremony of students at the Royal University of Agriculture.
He told the public not to hurry to conclude that they were infected with HIV, adding that experts need to look into the case thoroughly.
The PM said that he had ordered the experts to double-check HIV testing devices for their accuracy.
“It is a story that is hard to believe, but it is serious if the mass infections are a true story,’’ he said.
Hun appealed to all the people across the country, especially to the people in the area where the incident took place, not to get panicked.
Report says hundreds of residents in the Roka commune of Battambang province have flocked to have their blood tested for HIV/AIDS at a health centre since Dec. 8 after report of the mass infections emerged.
Hei Sik, Head of a local HIV/AIDS test programme in the commune, said as of Wednesday, 775 villagers had been tested for the virus and 106 of them were confirmed positive for HIV.
Hei added that the HIV-positive people were aged from 3 years old to 82.
According to Hei, villagers suspected that the mass infections were caused by an unlicensed doctor, who might have used contaminated medical tools such as needles to inject different patients.
The provincial police said that the suspected doctor had willingly came to the police station on Wednesday for questioning after escaping following news of mass HIV spreading.
The PM has ordered the police to protect the safety of the suspected doctor and his family to avoid from being killed by angry mob.
“The doctor is the track of evidence for an investigation into the case, if he is killed, the investigative track will be gone.
“His safety is very important to find out the real cause of the incident,’’Hun said.
Report says Cambodia has seen a success in reducing HIV infection rate over the last decade.
According to the National AIDS Authority, the prevalence rate of HIV infections steadily declined to 0.4 per cent among the general adult population in 2014 from 2.5 per cent in 1998.
Currently, the Southeast Asian nation has some 73,733 people living with the disease. (Xinhua/NAN)

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