Report: More than half of Cambodia's HIV-affected households go hungry

Aug 30, 2011

Phnom Penh - More than half of Cambodians living with HIV were hungry and lacked adequate food supplies in 2010, compared to just over one third of those not affected by HIV, according to a new report launched last week in Phnom Penh.

The report, The Socioeconomic Impact of HIV, also found that 27 percent of those living with HIV lost their job or other source of income after being diagnosed with HIV. In general, HIV-affected households earned 25 percent less per capita than non-affected households.

“The study highlights the extreme vulnerability of HIV-affected households to economic shock,” said United Nations Resident Coordinator in Cambodia, Douglas Broderick. “Such findings underscore the importance of scaling up HIV-sensitive social protection programs and ensuring poverty-reduction interventions reach the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.”

Based on data collected through a national survey of 4,172 households (2,623 HIV-affected and 1,549 non-affected), the latest Cambodia National Aids Authority report was commissioned as part of a UN Development Programme (UNDP) initiative to assess HIV’s social and economic impact in Asia.

While Cambodia has made remarkable progress in halting and reversing the country’s HIV epidemic and scaling up access to antiretroviral therapy and treatment for opportunistic infections, the report found HIV continues to have a profound impact on households.

Among the most striking impacts, HIV-affected households were twice as likely to be headed by a widow (34 percent versus 17 percent) and more than one third of HIV affected households cared for a child orphaned by AIDS.

Children in HIV-affected households were more likely to have a job than those in non-affected households and twice as many girls in HIV-affected households worked compared with those in non-affected households (10 percent versus five percent).

While school enrolment levels among HIV-affected and non-affected households were almost equal at 86 percent and 85 percent respectively, children in affected-households were more likely to be out of school due to financial reasons (21 percent versus 15 percent).

Although HIV prevalence among the population of almost 15 million has declined to 0.7 percent last year from two percent in 1998, the national HIV epidemic was expected to be responsible for an overall 16.5 percent decline in GDP between 1993 and 2020.

However, treatment reduced GDP losses by US$100 million per year between 2003 and 2009. The study estimates that the deaths of 21,497 workers were avoided during this period by provision of antiretroviral therapy to 96.7 percent of eligible adults and children.

Findings from this largest and most comprehensive study of its kind in Cambodia will be used to strengthen existing HIV prevention, treatment, care and impact mitigation strategies, introduce new evidence-informed interventions and ensure resources are allocated effectively.

The report was produced by the National AIDS Authority and the UN in Cambodia, in collaboration with Sanigest Internacional and the Centre for Advanced Study.

Contact information

Mr. Ker Munthit (Khmer): +855 11 905 261,

Ms. Casey McCarthy (English): +855 17 996 540,

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