Elderly Villager Dies of HIV/AIDS in Western Cambodia

cambodia-roka-tat-chhoy-funeral-apr21-2015.jpg Relatives of Roka villagers who have died of HIV/AIDS prepare the body of Tat Chhoy for her funeral in Roka commune, Sangke district, Battambang province, April 21, 2015.

An 89-year-old woman infected with HIV/AIDS has become the eighth person to die of the deadly virus in a village in remote western Cambodia, after being infected by an unauthorized medical worker who reused syringes.

The woman, Tat Chhoy, died on Monday at her home in Roka commune in Sangke district of Battambang province from complications related to HIV/AIDS. A blood test last December confirmed that she was infected with the disease, her daughter, Chan Veasna, said.

“My mother was sick until she died,” she said.

But Sou Sanith, Battambang’s provincial deputy director disputed the daughter’s account, saying Tat Chhoy died of natural causes.

“She was old, so it was difficult to treat her,” he said. “We planned to take her to the hospital, but her family refused saying she was old.”

Ny Socheat, a medical doctor who works for KHANA, a Cambodian nongovernmental organization that focuses on HIV prevention, said HIV/AIDS patients must monitor their health and constantly take medication to improve it.

More than 200 people in the commune have been affected by the virus, which has so far killed eight people.

Health officials have been monitoring the conditions of the ill residents and treating them with anti-retroviral therapy, Voeung Bunreth, director of Battambang’s Provincial Health Department, told the Phnom Penh Post.

“We have provided them with drugs and they are doing OK, though the elderly are concerned about their reactions,” he was quoted as saying. “But we have explained to them to take the drugs regularly.”

Reported by Hum Chamroeun of RFA’s Cambodia Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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