An outbreak of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in one small village in western Cambodia that has caused some panic has prompted an investigation by Cambodian and international health officials.
The outbreak has occurred at the remote Roka village in the western Battambang province.
According to a Xinhua report today, as of Wednesday, 775 villagers had been tested for the virus and 106 of them were confirmed positive for HIV. The ages of those affected range from 3 years old to 82.
Teams from Cambodia’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS arrived at the site on Tuesday to review the alarmingly high number of positive results and to offer free voluntary testing.
“I urge everyone to stay calm and avoid listening to or spreading rumours,” health minister Mam Bunheng said in a statement.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who ordered the probe, said Thursday, “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 villagers were tested positive for HIV.
“We should not hurry to conclude that they were infected with HIV; it needs to look into the case thoroughly,” he said, ordering experts to double-check HIV testing devices for their accuracy.
The Health Ministry said the outbreak was first detected in late November when a 74-year-old Roka man tested positive at a local health centre for the virus, followed shorty thereafter by some relatives.