Determining Barriers to Creating an Enabling Environment in Cambodia: Results from a Baseline Study with Key Populations and Police

September 2016 - Structural Prevention

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Schneiders, M.L., and Weissman, A. Journal of the International AIDS Society (2016), 19(Suppl 3): 20878, doi: 10.7448/IAS.19.4.20878.

Enforcement of Cambodian laws creates barriers to HIV service implementation for key populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs (PWID), and sex workers. The authors conducted a baseline study in advance of a harm-reduction intervention among police, clinicians, key population members, and implementing partners. The study was carried out to understand: 1) police attitudes and actions toward key populations, and 2) HIV prevention actions and actions toward police among key populations. The authors conducted structured interviews with 798 participants from key populations (MSM, PWID, transgender women, and female entertainment workers) and 199 police officers. Findings indicated that 11 percent of respondents had experienced arrest in the previous six months; 29 percent experienced verbal intimidation; and 25 percent experienced a body search. PWID reported higher incidence of these events than other key population groups. Among police, 58 percent reported arresting a key population member in the past six months; and 75 percent reported performing a body search. All police voiced support for HIV prevention; 94 percent stated that arrest/detention supported prevention activities. Future HIV prevention and harm reduction interventions must improve negative perspectives among key population members and police with specific research-informed interventions for each key population group.

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