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Cambodia orders probe into 'HIV village'
01:34 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

An unlicensed doctor has been charged over an HIV outbreak in Cambodia

Police confirm the doctor re-used needles while treating patients

Health officials say 106 tested HIV positive, with over 800 seeking to be tested

Stay calm and don't spread rumors, says health minister

Hong Kong CNN  — 

An unlicensed doctor has been charged with causing an HIV outbreak in a remote village in northwestern Battambang province, local media report.

More than 800 panicked residents of Rokar village sought testing after reports of infections emerged last week. Some 106 people tested positive for HIV, according to the National AIDS authority.

A provincial court has laid three charges against the unlicensed doctor, Yem Chroeum, including intentionally transmitting the HIV virus and running a clinic without permission from the Ministry of Health, police said.

The police confirmed Chroeum used contaminated needles.

“After questioning Yem Chroeum, he confessed he did order his son-in-law to burn down the evidence behind his house, and (treated) patients with negligence, as well as using the same needles to treat them,” Chet Vanny, deputy police chief of Battambang province told the Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodia calls for investigation

Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen called for an inquiry into the mass HIV infection last week.

“I call for a thorough investigation into the issue,” Hun Sen said in a televised speech.

The Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS have sent teams to the village to carry out more investigations and provide free testing and treatment services.

“I urge everyone to stay calm and avoid listening to or spreading rumors,” said Dr Mam Bunheng, minister of health in a press release.

“We should also all fully respect the privacy of the affected families and ensure they do not face stigma and discrimination,” he added.

UNAIDS estimates there are 76,000 people living with HIV in Cambodia. The country has been widely praised for its progress in tackling AIDS. New HIV infections have dropped by 67% from 3500 in 2005 to 1300 in 2013, according to UNAIDS.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced last week that Cambodia is committed to stopping new HIV infections by 2020. The government will allocate US$3.7 million of national funding to HIV treatment from 2015 to 2017.

CNN’s Mitra Mobasherat contributed to this report.