Man on Trial For Infecting More Than 100 People With HIV (Photo)

Yem Chhrin (middle) led away by prison guards
Yem Chhrin (middle) led away by prison guards

An unlicensed medical practitioner who infected more than 100 villagers in northwestern Cambodia with HIV by reusing unclean needles went on trial Tuesday, facing three charges including murder, his lawyer said. His name has been given as Yem Chhrin. His offence according to people bores down to an act of negligence which has led to fatal damages.

Yem Chhrin faces up to life in prison if found guilty of murder, intentionally spreading HIV the virus that causes AIDS and practicing medicine without a license, his lawyer, Em Sovann, said by telephone from Battambang town, where a provincial court is holding the five-day trial.

Yem Chhrin was arrested last December and taken into protective custody, fearing revenge lynching by residents of Roka village, where at least 106 of the 800 people tested were found to be infected with HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. Local newspapers have put the number at 300.

The infected range in age from 3 to 82, and include Buddhist monks. At least 10 victims are reported to have died.

Yem Chhrin, 53, was one such practitioner.

“I was shocked when I learned I was infected. … I am sure the HIV virus I had was from Yem Chhrin’s treatment,” Leurn Lum, one of the 120 villagers who filed the police complaint, said by telephone. “I am a good husband, as I have never had sex with other women in my life.”

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Leurn Lum, 51, said he had never sought treatment from anyone other than Yem Chhrin. He found out he had HIV in late 2014, and his wife had also tested positive. He said he wants to see Yem Chhrin punished.

Some villagers said Yem Chhrin had a good reputation for his years of dedicated service to the village by providing treatment even though he lacked formal training or certification.

It should be noted that Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world which has inadequate health care facilities, especially in rural areas, where villagers often have no recourse but to rely on unlicensed medical practitioners who have trained themselves to treat minor ailments and to give injections.

CBS News

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