Visiting HIV/AIDS-affected family in Cambodia
Tuol Sambou, a community for people living with HIV/AIDS in Cambodia, is located about 27km Southern of Phnom Penh.
The community was founded in 2009 by the government of Cambodia in cooperation with non-governmental organizations working with HIV/AIDS families. Houses have been built for HIV/AIDS victims in the community. According to Khum Khoeun, the chief of Tuol Sambou village, the community curently has 80 families, and 45 families out of them are the families that their members have HIV/AIDS positive.
One of the HIV/AIDS positive families in the community is Nov Thy, 44, and his wife Duch Thy, 36, with their four dependent children. The couple has contracted with HIV/AIDS, but none of their kids have the virus.
Nov Thy said,"because of my careless I was infected with the AIDS virus when I had sex outside home. I realized that I have the disease in 2004."
Duch Thy said,"I was terribly shocked and hopeless when I knew that I was infected. At first, I was furious with my husband .. but, later, my fury has diminished because he did not wish to get the disease. I don't know when the disease had transmitted to me."
"When I got angry with him, I wanted to run away from him, but I could not do so because I feel pity to my children, so I decided to live together with him and all the children."
The couple has regularly complied with the prescription by taking the HIV/AIDS antiretroviral drugs to live longer to take care of their children. The family has still faced stigma and discrimination from a handful of people.
Duch Thy said,"they still discriminate against us, my mother- in-law and relatives do not eat rice with us. I am really down- hearted and difficult to live because of discrimination."
But since 2009, after they have come to live in the community, their family has had a new hope in their lives thanks to the attentions from the government of Cambodia and NGOs working with people living with HIV/AIDS.
Phoeun Chenda, staff of the women organization for modern economy and nursing, which is working with the HIV/AIDS families in the community, said,"our NGO has constantly advised them how to take care of their health and donated them some food and cash in order to help them to start a micro-scale business."
Nov Thy said,"to date, I feel better and not much concerned about living condition thanks to the support by several NGOs and the encouragement from people in the community."
For the future of their kids, the couple said that besides depending on the donations from NGOs, they have worked hard to earn an income through feeding pigs and poultry on a small piece of leased land. Also, the couple has leased a hectare of land nearby the community to grow rice paddy since 2009 that can ensure food security for the whole family throughout the year.
Comparing the Nov Thy's family to other HIV/AIDS families, the Nov Thy's family living condition is a bit better than the others because they can earn the living by themselves. The family can afford to buy bicycle, motorbike, and other belongings with the income they earn from their micro scale business.
Duch Thy said,"I have never thought that I can live until today. I always thought that I would die in a couple of years after contracting the virus, but with the regular taking of antiretroviral drugs, I have lived longer."
With the couple's struggle, all of their children have chance to go to school and they will be a good pattern for other HIV/AIDS families in the community to follow their footsteps.
Currently, the country has an estimated 67,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. Some 6,000 of them are children, while up to 96 percent of them have received antiretroviral drugs. According to the government, the country is expected to reduce the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDs infection to 0.5 percent in 2015 and would be totally eliminated by 2025. Also, the year 2025 can be the year of no new infection, no new death of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia.