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Keywords:

  • Cambodia;
  • antiretroviral therapy;
  • developing world bioethics;
  • empirical ethics;
  • rationing treatment

ABSTRACT

The way Cambodian patients and health professionals judge the priority of HIV-infected patients in relation to the allocation of antiretroviral drugs was examined. Participants were either HIV-infected patients attending the HIV/AIDS Care and Support Centre for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Phnom Penh (29 females and 21 males) or members of the staff (9 physicians, 6 pharmacists and 15 health counsellors and health educators). They were presented with stories of a few lines depicting a patient's situation and were instructed to judge the extent to which the patient should be given priority for HIV drugs. The stories were composed according to a four within-subject factor design: (a) the patient's family responsibilities, (b) the severity of infection, (c) the time elapsed since the first consultation, and (d) the financial difficulties of the family. Most patients expressed the view that the drugs should be used for the patients who are most important from a familial point of view, namely, when the family contains small children and/or is already in a precarious financial condition.