Government officials and NGOs are looking for a way to work with owners of KTVs, bars and nightclubs in order to have easy access to educate women working in the establishments to protect themselves against HIV and prevent discrimination against those who were infected.
Teng Kuntea, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combatting HIV/AIDS, said yesterday that government officials met with NGOs last week to discuss the issue of educating women who are most vulnerable to exposure.
Mr Kunthea said that 2.3 percent of those who contract HIV work in KTVs, bars and nightclubs.
“It’s important to work with the owners of those places because the owners could advise their employees to take measures in order to avoid HIV infection,” he said, adding that women who offer sexual services must consciously protect themselves. “We do not know if guests are infected or not, so those women must protect themselves by using condoms.”
Mr Kunthea estimated that there are 40,000 women working in KTVs, bars and nightclubs across the country, with half in Phnom Penh.
Srey Vanthuon, a programme manager with AIDS Health Foundation, said her organisation is appealing to owners of KTVs, bars and nightclubs to educate their employees on the dangers of HIV and distribute condoms.
“We want business owners to allow us to directly come and educate the women on how to protect themselves against HIV,” Ms Vanthuon said.
Kim Sovanna, director of Phnom Penh’s tourism department, said that there are 400 registered “entertainment” venues across the capital. Ms Sovanna said it is imperative the message of prevention be brought to every woman employed in the industry.
“The women need to get educated from officials and NGOs because they are prone to the disease,” she said.
During a visit to thousands of workers in Kampong Chhnang province last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on garment workers to not discriminate against HIV-positive colleagues.
Last year, the United Nations applauded Cambodia for its treatment of HIV.
The UN said at the time that 57,000 people living with HIV in the country were getting access to antiretroviral therapy, roughly 80 percent of those infected.