Battle Against HIV/AIDS in Cambodia: Successes and Challenges

Daniel and Nancy Okimoto Conference Room

More than two decades have passed since the first case of HIV infection was detected in Cambodia in 1991. Cambodia is among the countries with the highest HIV prevalence in Asia and has been experiencing the most serious HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region. The epidemic is spread primarily through heterosexual transmission and revolves largely around the sex trade.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, the Royal Government of Cambodia has made a strong political commitment to the need for prevention of HIV transmission and care for people living with HIV/AIDS. It has received some technical and financial support from national and international agencies. Several prevention and intervention programs have been successfully implemented, and the WHO/UNAIDS recognized that the Cambodia’s HIV/AIDS epidemic appeared to have stabilized in 2002.

The estimated HIV prevalence in the general adult population declined to 0.5% in 2009, down from 1.2% in 2001. Among women visiting antenatal care clinics, the prevalence also declined from 2.1% in 1999 to 1.1% in 2006. There was also a gradual increase in the percentage of HIV-infected pregnant women who received antiretroviral therapy to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission, from 1.2% in 2003 to 11.2% in 2007, and finally to 32.3% in 2009.

Despite the decline of HIV prevalence in the general population, the prevalence remains high among high-risk groups such as commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men, and injection drug users. Furthermore, the so-called prevention-successful-country is also seeing the growing need for HIV/AIDS treatment and care.

This seminar will highlight the past and current features of Cambodia’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, lessons learned from prevention and care policies, and future challenges that Cambodia may face in the battles against HIV/AIDS.  

Dr. Siyan Yi joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center during the 2011–12 academic year from the National Center of Global Health and Medicine and the University of Tokyo, Japan, where he jointly served as a research fellow and lecturer. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Cambodia’s School of Public Health, the National Institute of Public Health, and the School of International Studies at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.