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Doctor charged in Cambodia HIV outbreak

by Phorn Bopha / Al Jazeera America

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More than 100 people in Roka Commune  have tested positive for HIV since late November. 

An unlicensed doctor accused of causing an outbreak of HIV in a small community in Battambang province has been charged with murder. Since late November, more than 100 people in Roka commune in northwestern Cambodia tested positive for HIV, including children as young as six years old. On Monday, the provincial court issued three charges against 55-year-old Yem Chrin, whom many in Roka have accused of spreading the infection.

“He is charged with one count of spreading HIV. The second charge is committing cruel murder,” Heng Luy, deputy provincial prosecutor, told Al Jazeera. “He is also charged with violating medical ethics.”

Yem Chrin is local medical practitioner who received healthcare training in refugee camps in the 1980s and for the past 20 years has treated a vast array of illnesses for a large number of people in this community. While being questioned by police, Yem Chrin admitted to using the same syringe on two or three patientsbefore discarding it.

“He will be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty,” Heng Luy said, adding that some of the patients under Yem Chrin’s care had already died from AIDS. Neither Heng Luy nor Seng Luch, Battambang’s deputy penal police chief, would elaborate on how Yem Chrin allegedly infected more than 100 people with HIV.

Cambodia has had success in battling HIV/AIDS since emerging from under the rule of the Khmer Rouge regime.

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