BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The Police Master Trainers have received training on HIV/AIDS Peer education at the Police Headquarters of the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh on the 3rd to the 7th of August 2009. The training aimed to integrate HIV/AIDS education into the standard police training program, and so combating the spread of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia.
The HIV/AIDS Peer Education training was organized by the AIDS Secretariat of the Ministry of Interior which was financial supported by the USAID, PRASIT and FHI.
Lieutenant General Pen Vibol, Director of the AIDS Secretariat in the Ministry of Interior, said that the training aimed to inform the police forces about how to protect themselves, their families and their communities from HIV/AIDS. “By training the police we will be better able to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia.”
“So far, HIV/AIDS is still an important issue and a strong concern in Cambodia despite that its rate prevalence has been decreasing compared to neighboring countries. The armed forces, especially the police, are among those who now are affected and challenged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Vibol remarked during his opening speech at the training.
Approximately 6 percent of the Cambodian people between 15 and 49, have been infected with HIV/AIDS, according to a report revealed by Dr. Tea Phalla, Deputy Director of the AIDS Department of the National AIDS Authority at the Ministry of Health. Dr. Phalla said that approximately 2.3 percent of the infected populations are members of the police force who are currently working in Phnom Penh and other provinces.
Since 1991 the HIV epidemic has claimed over 100,000 Cambodian lives. Currently there are over 50,000 Cambodians who are infected 3,300 of this number are children. Only 38,000 of the total number of 50,000 people are receiving treatment.
The two main methods of transferring the disease are unprotected sex and intravenous drug use. According to Dr. Tea Phalla it is estimated that about 220,000 Cambodian men are frequenting brothels. Besides that 400,000 men are involved in sexual relationships outside the sex industry. There are about 250,000 women working as sex workers in Cambodia. About 20 percent of these women are habitual drug users. Dr. Tea Phalla continued to say that it is of great concern that so many Cambodians do not use condoms when engaging in sexual relationships. Especially while using the services of sex workers the risk of getting infected is extremely high.
Vibol pointed out that to reduce the HIV/AIDS infection in police forces and to prevent the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia, the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with FHI, USAID and other concerned authorities have been working hard in raising HIV/AIDS awareness for Cambodian police forces in cities and provinces across the nation.
“Since the first training of HIV/AIDS awareness conducted in 1999, so far all Cambodian police forces nationwide have received training about HIV/AIDS. By training we are enabling our police forces to join in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS,” Vibol added.