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Press Release

May 22, 2007 
Less than one percent of Cambodian adults are HIV positive, but misconceptions about HIV are widespread

Calverton, MD – Results from the recently released 2005 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS) indicate that 0.6 percent of Cambodian adults age 15-49 are infected with HIV. Prevalence is the same for women and men. The new survey used population-based methods rather than sentinel surveillance. The national sentinel surveillance rate is 1.6 percent, but this method only tests pregnant women at government health facilities. Therefore, the 1.6 percent figure is not representative of the entire population.

The new CDHS results show a higher infection rate among women who received antenatal care in a public health facility (1.0 percent) than those who received antenatal care in a different facility (0.3 percent) or those who did not receive any ANC in the past 3 years (0.6 percent). This helps to explain the difference seen between the new DHS population-based HIV rate and the national sentinel surveillance rate.

HIV prevalence is three times higher among those living in the wealthiest households than those living in the poorest households. Interestingly, 40 percent of women and 44 percent of men who were HIV positive had been tested previously for HIV, while only 9 percent of HIV-negative women and 11 percent of HIV-negative men had ever taken an HIV test before.

While the percentage of HIV positive adults is low, misconceptions about HIV and its transmission are widespread. Almost all Cambodians have heard of AIDS, but only 69 percent of women and 60 percent of men know that a healthy-looking person can have the AIDS virus. Only about two-thirds know that AIDS cannot be transmitted by mosquito bites. Almost nine in ten women know that HIV can be transmitted to an infant through breastfeeding, but only 33 percent know that this risk can be minimized if the mother takes special drugs during pregnancy.

HIV testing is relatively uncommon in Cambodia. About half of men and women know where to get an HIV test, but only 10 percent of women and 14 percent of men have ever taken an HIV test and received the results.

The 2005 CDHS was implemented by the National Institute of Public Health and the National Institute of Statistics, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Macro International Inc. provided technical assistance. The survey was funded by the United States Agency for International Development and other international donors.