UNDP says 51% of HIV-affected households in Cambodia live in hunger

19 September 2011

PHNOM PENH — Some 51 percent of the HIV/AIDS- infected households in Cambodia are living in hunger, said a new UN survey released here on Thursday, calling for more attention to the need for HIV-sensitive social protection mechanisms.

The survey on the Socioeconomic Impact of HIV at the Household Level in Cambodia is the largest and most comprehensive study ever conducted in Cambodia. It was produced by the National AIDS Authority and the United Nations in Cambodia.

It had been conducted on 4,172 households including 2,623 HIV- affected households and 1,549 non-affected households.

The study found that 51 percent of HIV-affected households reportedly suffered from hunger and not having enough food to eat, compared to 35 percent of non-affected households.

It said that stigma and discrimination happened more often on HIV-positive women than men. Some 23 percent of women reported experiencing verbal abuse as a result of their HIV status, compared with 16 percent of men, while seven percent reported experiencing physical threats or abuse as a result of their status, compared with four percent of men.

The report also found that 65 percent of people living with HIV epidemic being low self-esteem, 49 percent feeling ashamed of their status, while 47 percent felt they should be punished, and 16 percent reported having suicidal thoughts.

On the economic side, 27 percent of respondents said they lost their jobs or other source of income since being diagnosed with HIV, and it also decreased income for caregivers. Over 25 percent of the HIV-infected people have caregivers, and 18 percent of caregivers reportedly left their jobs.

It added that 65 percent of HIV-affected households had a least one loan.

In addition, the report predicted the national HIV epidemic would be responsible for an overall decline in GDP of 16.5 percent between 1993 and 2020. However, the report estimated high coverage of anti-retroviral therapy, up to 96.7 percent, successfully averted 21,497 labor force deaths between 2003 and 2009 and reduced GDP loses by 100 million U.S. dollars a year.

Currently, an estimated 75,000 Cambodian people in 60,000 households are living with HIV/AIDS, said the report.

“The report will be an important base for us to find ways to improve the livelihoods for the HIV-affected households,” said Tia Phalla, vice chairman of the National AIDS Authority.

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