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Vanishing Condoms Spark Alarm 15/12/03 -- The Nation

The United Nation's AIDS agency in Thailand has expressed concern over the disappearance of free condoms from gay saunas since the launch of the Thai government's social order campaign. Many of the saunas have been raided repeatedly during the past two years. Sauna owners have been advised that condoms could be used as evidence against them if they were charged with operating sex establishments. Therefore, the owners stopped handing out free condoms. "Anything that hampers access to tools of [HIV/AIDS] prevention jeopardizes the whole program," said Dr. Swarup Sarkar, country program development advisor for UNAIDS. He said UNAIDS had raised the issue with officials from the Ministry of Public Health, and they were trying to establish a common position before approaching other ministries and law-enforcement agencies. Sarkar is also concerned that the war on drugs has driven intravenous drug users beyond the reach of public health workers. The disappearance of free condoms comes at a time when the Public Health Ministry is beginning to recognize the AIDS epidemic among gay and bisexual men, a group whose issues Asian health officials have been reluctant to address. The ministry hopes to have its first HIV/AIDS program for gay and bisexual men operating before the World AIDS conference in Bangkok next July, said Dr. Taweesap Siripasiri, adjunct director of the ministry's collaboration with the US CDC. A study earlier this year found that 17.3 percent of gay and bisexual men in Bangkok were HIV-positive. Researchers tested and interviewed 1,121 men at 16 of the 255 gay venues in Bangkok. They found that 44 percent of them had unsafe sex during the previous six months; 36 percent said they had also had sex with at least one woman, 22 percent during the previous six months. The average age of the men was 26.9, with those ages 18-22 nearly twice as likely to have HIV.

Thai Government Drops Plan for Condom Machines at Universities 1/12/03 -- Associated Press

Thailand's director of the Bureau for AIDS, TB and STDs said Monday that widespread and outspoken opposition has caused the government to scuttle its recently announced plan to put condom vending machines in universities. "We may propose this again when society feels ready," said Dr. Sombat Thanprasertsuk. Health officials did not wish to alienate school authorities over the proposal, "because we want to work with them," Sombat said. Opponents of the vending machines said they would encourage student promiscuity. Supporters said they would help fight HIV/AIDS by encouraging safe sex among youths who would not have otherwise used condoms. The government is working to place condom vending machines in department store and bus station bathrooms, Sombat said. Two state-subsidized condoms will cost five baht (13 US cents), compared to about 40 baht (US $1.02) for over-the-counter condoms. Thailand had 142,819 new HIV infections in 1991, the peak of its epidemic. But with the help of social and religious programs, a 100 percent condom-use campaign among sex workers and free distribution at sex venues, the number of new infections fell to 23,676 last year.

Thai Teenagers Shunning Condoms, Health Ministry Warns 16/11/03 -- Agence France Presse

On Sunday, the Health Ministry warned of an alarming trend of Thai teenagers shunning condoms, and it called for more campaigns to encourage their use as protection against HIV/AIDS. A survey of 350 teenage boys in Kalasin province found that only 24 percent regularly used condoms, believing it was safe to have sex with someone they knew. "Sexual relations among teenagers now are happening between people who have known each other for a while, so they believe that they can trust one another more than a condom," said ministry spokesperson Nittaya Chanreung. "That's a worrying problem." The recently released three-year survey found that most teenage boys only use condoms when they have sex with sex workers, which Nittaya said happens relatively rarely. The survey found that the average age for boys to have sex for the first time had dropped from 16 years in 1998 to 14 years at the time of the study. Life expectancy in Thailand has dropped 1.4 years, to 68.9, due to the high number of young people dying of AIDS, the UN reported in July.

Thailand begins distributing free AIDS drugs to 50,000 1/10/03 -- Associated Press

The Thai government has launched a program to provide free drugs to slow down the symptoms of AIDS among 50,000 citizens who harbor the virus that causes the deadly disease. The program, with a budget of nearly 1 billion baht (US$25 million), is the first in any country to provide continuous treatment with antiretroviral drugs to so many people, Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said. As many as 1 million of Thailand's 63 million people have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to estimates by the United Nations and other organizations. Sudarat said Thailand has already managed to slow the rate of infection through campaigns to promote the use of condoms, according to a health ministry news release. HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected sexual contact and the shared use of syringes for injecting illegal drugs. The new program, aimed especially for postpartum women and children, will focus on people whose clinical symptoms are still at a relatively mild stage. However, all AIDS sufferers under the age of 12 months will be eligible to receive the drugs regardless of their condition. Thailand's Government Pharmaceutical Organization manufactures generic versions of such drugs at low cost, even though patents on many such drugs are held by multinational drug companies.

Scouts to Get Free Condoms at International Jamboree 23/12/02 -- Associated Press

Scouts attending the 20th World Scout Jamboree in Thailand will be provided with free condoms on request, Dr. Pipat Yingseri of the Public Health Ministry said Tuesday. Yingseri said condoms would be supplied at the event because reports of participants engaging in sex had emerged from past scout gatherings. About 20,000 boy and girl scouts from 80 nations are expected to attend the Dec. 28-Jan. 7 event. Most of the scouts are ages 14 to 18. "We are preparing the condoms to prevent AIDS, not to encourage sexual activity. In case they need them they can ask for them from us," Yingseri said. Yuwarat Jamornvej, the camp chief, said sexual encounters would prove difficult for the campers, given the large number of people in the area and nightly security patrols by up to 300 volunteers. He and public health officials expect illnesses, including sunstroke, to be a bigger problem.

Fighting AIDS in Asia - In Thailand, the Armed Forces Help Beat Back an Epidemic 13/10/02 -- Baltimore Sun

Thailand, once a festering sore of people infected with HIV/AIDS because of illicit drugs and a notorious sex trade, has made remarkable headway in beating back that deadly scourge. And it has been the Royal Thai Army that has led the charge as the Thais forged a consensus that HIV/AIDS was not just a medical issue but one of national security. Major General Suebpong Sangkharomya, a senior medical officer] asserted that without intervention, Thailand would have suffered 8 million cases of HIV/AIDS since 1984 instead of 1 million cases. He said the Thai army had seen a drop in the number of men entering the army who had symptoms of HIV/AIDS, from 3.7 percent in 1993 to 0.7 percent last year. After the first cases of HIV/AIDS were found in Thailand in 1984, General Suebpong said, "the official policy was generally to hush up the problem for fear of losing tourists and causing public panic." Five years later, however, "enough alarms had been raised to make people sit up and take notice of the disaster in the making." The first action, as might be expected of military leaders, was to gather intelligence to determine the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Once having found the incidence among soldiers, the Thais gathered information on other groups at risk, such as students, factory workers living away from families and seafarers. Thailand set about preventing new infections, treating those already infected, seeking help from abroad and initiating new research. Classes on AIDS were included in all military training, and warnings were directed at other groups. Testing was expanded. Leaders sought to foster a supportive attitude among the public to avert discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS. The Thai army doctor pointed to four lessons his compatriots had learned. "Prompt assessment and response is essential," he said. "Seeing HIV/AIDS as a national security threat was a key to success. All agencies in a nation must coordinate their anti- HIV/AIDS actions. And the resources of the armed forces can be used effectively to help a country respond,' he said pointedly, clearly suggesting that the militaries of other nations could be catalytic in forging a national consensus to battle HIV/AIDS."

Thai Charity Says It Was Fooled into Distributing Fake AIDS Cure 30/08/02 -- Associated Press

The private Thai charity Salang Bunnag Foundation said Friday that it was fooled into distributing a purported AIDS cure, later shown to be useless, to thousands of patients. "We have stopped distributing it," said Dr. Sek Aksaranukroh, a volunteer working for the foundation. The group's admission came a year after Thailand's Public Health Ministry reached the same conclusion and banned the distribution of the V-1 Immunitor pill as a medicine. The government, however, allowed the foundation to distribute the pill as a food supplement. The foundation backed V-1's inventor, Vichai Jirathitikal, a pharmacologist who claimed the pill fought against HIV in the digestive tract. But after nine months of research, the Salang Bunnag Foundation found that the pill only makes AIDS patients feel stronger and fresh, but does not cure the disease, said Sek. The foundation initially supported V-1, he said, because they saw signs of improvement in 31 HIV patients. But further observation of 71 other patients found that there was no improvement and some even died.

Thailand Developing Two More HIV Vaccines 12/08/02 -- Associated Press

Thailand will develop two more HIV vaccines for human trial in the next two years; the news follows last month's announcement that Thailand would soon embark on the world's largest HIV vaccine trial. Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said the BCG-gag E and Vaccinia-gag E vaccines, aimed at combating HIV's E strain which is widespread in Thailand, have already shown impressive results in monkeys. The two vaccines proved effective at reactivating the monkeys' immune systems and reducing their HIV prevalence, the Nation newspaper quoted a Department of Medical Science report as saying. The Health Ministry is funding more than one-quarter of the $3.8 million price tag for the vaccines project, with the remainder coming from the private sector. More than 266,500 people in Thailand have contracted AIDS since 1984, of which 61,204 have died, according to Health Ministry figures.

Thai AIDS Patients' Pop Group Disbands After Members Die 04/02/02 -- Associated Press

HIV-Band, a Thai pop group composed of AIDS patients, has disbanded after eight years of performing. The group, whose Western style songs offered encouragement to AIDS patients, continued performing by replacing members who died with other patients. Some 60 people with AIDS performed in the band through the years. But following the recent deaths of four members and the serious illness of two others, HIV-Band is calling it quits. "The band has not performed in two months. I am the only one on his feet. It would take some time to train newcomers to replace my old colleagues," said current leader Sawong Wanchahem. The band was headquartered in Lopburi province at the Phrabath Namphu temple, which also operates a hospice for AIDS patients.

Thailand Blazes Trail in AIDS Fight 17/12/01 -- BBC News

More than 2,000 activists, researchers, public health officials and AIDS patients are expected to attend the four-day international conference on Home and Community Care for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Chiang Mai. This is the first time the conference has been held in Asia, and the venue chosen recognizes some of the community-based initiatives undertaken in Thailand, where 1 million people are thought to have contracted HIV.

Thailand's record in tackling one of Asia's earliest and most severe AIDS epidemics is frequently cited as an example of what imaginative and sensitive policies can achieve. When AIDS took hold in Thailand in the early 1990s, the state medical system was quickly overwhelmed. Authorities turned to religious and other non-governmental groups for help in caring for the growing number of infected people. This bold move helped to spread the burden of care through the community and to reduce the deep stigma attached to the illness.

100 Percent Condom Use Policy Is Significant Strategy 05/11/01 -- Malaysian National News Agency

At the 7th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders Summit in Brunei on Monday, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the most significant strategy in Thailand's AIDS prevention program was its policy of 100 percent condom use in sex establishments. The policy, adopted in 1991, "prevents customers from purchasing sexual services unless they use a condom," he said in a statement during a special session on HIV/AIDS. As a result, the incidence of STDs dropped from more than 400,000 cases per year before 1991 to fewer than 14,000 cases per year since 2000.

AIDS now Thailand's Number One cause of Death 31/8/01 -- AEGIS

AIDS has become the leading cause of death in Thailand, overtaking accidents, heart disease and cancer, Deputy Public Health Minister Surapong Suebwong-lee said in a report Friday. The minister did not disclose exact figures but said the extent of HIV-AIDS had been under-reported because the relatives of victims in rural areas were reluctant to report the real cause of death.

"Village headmen reported most non-accidental deaths as being a result of 'the heart stopped beating'. This led to a misconception that most Thais die of heart disease," he told the daily. "But we have done a new random survey and found out that the biggest cause of deaths in the rural areas is AIDS," he said after returning from a World Health Organisation meeting in the Maldives. The UN Programme on HIV-AIDS (UNAIDS) office in Bangkok said AIDS deaths would continue to rise as Thais who were infected at the start of the epidemic 10 years ago began to sicken and die in large numbers. An estimated 1.0 million of Thailand's 60 million people have been infected with HIV and around one third of those have already died.

Bogus Drug Handouts OK: Pitak 14/6/01 -- Nation

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Pitak Intrawityanunt said yesterday that the Salang Bunnang Foundation can continue its free distribution of V-1 Immunitor pills to AIDS patients, even though the drug's curative properties have not been proven. The pill's producers insist it could cure AIDS, but non-governmental organizations working with and for AIDS patents have taken a dim view of the claims due to the lack of scientific substantiation. Pitak said the Food and Drug Administration was prepared to provide full cooperation once the pill's proponents are ready to register the product. He said he was suspicious, however, about the disappearance of all nine subjects involved in what was to have been a six-month trial of the drug by the Medical Science Department.

Victims Find Temple Doors Shut on Them 05/10/01 -- Bangkok Post

The right of people with HIV or AIDS to be ordained may be championed by AIDS activists and non-governmental organizations worldwide, but in Thailand, prospective monks are required to submit medical details including results from blood tests-and that obstacle is keeping those who are HIV-positive out of the monkhood.

Chaokhun Metheedhammacharn, who monitors ordination at Wat Suwannaram, said the Sangha Council issued tougher rules after the murder of Joanne Masheder, a British backpacker who was killed by a drug-addicted monk in the grounds of a temple in Kanchanaburi. The council wanted people being ordained to be free not only of AIDS or HIV but also TB, leprosy and elephantiasis.

"Loosening measures as we have in the past made temples a shelter for criminals and wrongdoers trying to escape legal or social punishments," the senior monk said. "It's not easy to contract HIV, and it's not difficult either, especially for monks who have to live together," he said. "They have to share things, like clothes, spoons, and water glasses. New monks, in particular, have to stay with others, and we're not sure if this could cause transmission, but it's better to prevent it beforehand." More than that, he said, monks shave their heads regularly and HIV could be transmitted through razors.

Epidemic Has Slowed, but AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections Have Increased 04/03/01 -- Bangkok Post

In a study published in the March 2001 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health reported that while Thailand has mounted an effective program for preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, many HIV-infected persons in the country have progressed to full-blown AIDS. These patients with AIDS are now being diagnosed with wasting, TB, pneumonia and other opportunistic infections (OIs) that for the past several years have placed a substantial burden on the nation's health care system. The researchers looked at 25 OIs that are diagnostic of AIDS in HIV-infected persons and found the most commonly reported AIDS-defining conditions to be wasting syndrome (30 percent of cases), TB (29 percent), Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (20 percent), cryptococcosis (20 percent) and esophageal candidiasis (6 percent). Kaposi's sarcoma, common among AIDS patients in the West, was rare in Thailand, found in only 0.2 percent of AIDS patients there. Although public health efforts to prevent HIV infection should continue to be paramount, the researchers concluded, prevention and treatment of AIDS-related OIs in Thailand are likely to claim a greater percentage of the country's public health budget in the coming years.

More Thai Patients Progress to Full-Blown Disease 03/22/01 -- Bangkok Post

New research in the March issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that many HIV-infected individuals in Thailand are progressing to AIDS even though the country has an effective program in place to help stem sexual transmission of HIV. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health studied more than 100,000 AIDS cases in Thailand between 1994 and 1998 and found that the number of reported cases rose from 12,005 in 1994 to over 22,500 in 1996, and then leveled off at approximately 24,000 in 1997 and 1998. The researchers noted that 80 percent of the patients were male, 83 percent between the ages of 20 and 40, and 87 percent of the cases were acquired via sexual intercourse. The most frequently reported AIDS-defining conditions were wasting, tuberculosis, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, cryptococcosis, and esophageal candidiasis.

Intensive Effort Helps Contain Thai HIV Spread 12/26/00 -- Reuters

Researchers report that aggressive measures have helped to control HIV's spread in Thailand's Chiang Rai province. In 1991, the prevalence of HIV infection among female sex workers at brothels in the province was 62 percent, and approximately four-fifths of young male military conscripts reported having sex with these individuals that year. The Thai government launched an effort to promote condom use, distributing 1.2 million free condoms in the province each year, and also sanctioned police action against sex establishments with workers or customers who were infected. As a result of the prevention program, many brothels closed, the number of conscripts who reported visiting female sex workers had declined significantly by 1995, and reported sexually transmitted disease rates in Chiang Rai dropped from 726 per 100,000 in 1990 to 12 per 100,000 in 1999.

10 Percent of Thai Army Recruits HIV Positive 03/17/00 -- United Press International

A news report quoting Maj. Gen. Saksin Tipyakaysorn, chief of the Thailand army's Reserve Affairs Department, states that 10 percent of last year's conscripts and volunteers were discharged for being HIV-positive. According to the report in the Bangkok Post, most of the HIV-infected individuals were former drug addicts. The Thai military plans to recruit about 5,000 more people this year because of the high incidence of HIV.

Thais Worried by AIDS Risk Among Teenagers 01/05/00 -- Reuters

While Thailand has been successful in limiting HIV overall, there are signs of an increasing number of infections among teenagers, according to National AIDS Committee spokesman Somtrong Rakphoa. Somtrong said that studies indicate that only 20 percent of Thai teens use condoms during sex. The official noted that HIV rates have fallen among blood donors, male military conscripts, and pregnant women, although infections among intravenous drug users have increased substantially over the past decade.

Rare Disease Strikes AIDS Patients 11/99 -- AIDS Alert--International Supp.

Some AIDS patients in northern Thailand are dying from an opportunistic infection called Penicillium marneffei, a fungus that is endemic to many countries in Southeast Asia. If left untreated in AIDS patients, the fungus is nearly always fatal, according to Kenrad Nelson of the John Hopkins School of Public Health. The fungus produces serious symptoms such as fever, chronic coughing, weight loss, skin lesions, anemia, and septicemia. Nelson and colleagues found that intravenous therapy with amphotericin B, an antifungal drug, is successful in 75 percent of patients, with itraconazole used as prophylaxis.

Crisis Inflicts More Pain 18/6/98 -- IPS Wire

Health experts in Thailand say the country's estimated 1 million HIV-positive people are the ones most affected by the country's current economic crisis. On top of fighting personal and social problems, HIV-infected Thais are also feeling additional pressure from being denied subsidized medical care and financial support as a result of the trimming of health care budgets; health workers are concerned that the lack of government subsidies for expensive drugs like AZT may put the lives of HIV-positive citizens in danger.

Thai Army Winning AIDS Battle 30/5/98 -- Far Eastern Economic Review

A "100 percent condom campaign" in Thailand was successful in reducing the HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among new army recruits in the north. Researchers tracked infection rates among two groups involving 4,608 members of the army from 13 bases. The first group was tested from 1991 to 1993, while the second group was tested well after the initiation of the Thai government's TV and radio campaign, between 1993 and 1995. In the first group, the researchers measured a 2.48 HIV-incidence rate per 100 person-years and a rate of 17 STDs per 100 persons per year. In the later group, rates dropped substantially, with a 0.55 percent incidence of HIV per year and a 1.8 percent rate of STD infection per year. Moreover, men who reported inconsistent use of condoms with prostitutes were much more likely to contract an STD than those who consistently used the prophylactics. The overall rate of HIV prevalence in Thailand among the adult population is around 3 percent, with some 70 percent of these cases attributed to heterosexual sex. In northern Thailand, the estimated HIV rate among female sex workers is about 40 percent, while the overall incidence is approximately 17 percent.

Thai 'AIDS Colony' Scheme Draws Fire 6/3/98 -- UPI

HIV activists have denounced Thailand's plan to construct the world's first "AIDS colony." The Thai Agricultural and Cooperatives Ministry and a Buddhist temple are reportedly attempting to construct such a facility 75 miles north of Bangkok. The "community rehabilitation center"--as it is referred to by the abbot of Lop Buri's Bat Namphu temple--will shelter approximately 10,000 AIDS patients. The colony will help to provide a secure environment for patients and will help to contain the disease, according to the abbot, Phra Alongkot Tikapanyo. Critics contend that the plan will serve to ostracize AIDS patients and that it will project the image that AIDS patients are difficult to care for.

HIV Tests for Medical Students 31/12/97 -- IPS Wire

Thailand's public universities have recently come under fire for agreeing to test medical students for HIV, as proposed by the country's Mahidol University. Supporters of the HIV testing requirement say the effort would help prevent the transmission of HIV from doctors, dentists, and health care workers to patients. University officials assert that the measure could help students by giving them the opportunity to access proper advice to change their course schedule to classes with lower risks of infection. However, the proposal has drawn considerable criticism from doctors, educators, and activists, who argue the tests violate the human rights protection clause of the Constitution. The controversy also highlights the recent problems Thailand has had to face as a society with a high HIV prevalence rate. The World Health Organization has estimated that HIV prevalence in Thais aged 15 to 49 is 2.3 percent of the overall population.

Thais Plan Stepped-Up AIDS Campaign 30/7/97 -- UPI

The Thai government is ordering local communities to increase efforts to control AIDS and to improve assistance offered to AIDS patients. The government's anti-AIDS campaign will also focus on public education campaigns and efforts to reduce prostitution. The new effort reportedly comes in response to criticism from more than 150 organizations allied under the Network of HIV-Infected People in the Upper North of Thailand. The groups demand that the government step up efforts to care for AIDS orphans as well as preserve civil and employment rights for those who are HIV positive. According to the Thai Health Ministry, about 40,000 Thais are on medication for AIDS symptoms, and more than 10,000 have already died from the disease. The number of HIV-positive individuals in the country is estimated at between 800,000 and 1 million.


The setting up of a National Aids Foundation to oversee government spending on the prevention and control of Aids was yesterday approved by the National Aids Commission. A team lead by Aids activist Mechai Viravaidhya has been asked to draw up plans for the setting-up of the foundation by May.

Communicable Diseases Control Division director-general Damrong Boonyuen said the foundation would look into how to spend the government's Aids budget in addition to funds donated by private organisations. The government has this year allocated 1,600m baht to preventing and controlling Aids. The National Aids Commission, chaired by Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, yesterday held its first meeting under the current government. The commission has also asked government-owned television stations to air more anti-Aids adverts. It also approved the hosting of an international meeting of people with HIV/Aids in November in Chiang Mai to show sufferers that the authorities were willing to listen to them. -- BANGKOK POST

HIV present in former prostitutes Jan 30, 1997

Some 25 percent of 900 former prostitutes undergoing rehabilitation with the Public Welfare Department have HIV, department chief Ampol Singhakovin said yesterday. Twenty per cent of the women infected are under 18, he said. Many women were earlier found to have gone back to prostitution after leaving the rehabilitation centres, Mr Ampol said. -- The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. All rights reserved 1997


A man known as Thailand's condom king wants to set up his own "health party" to form policies on AIDS and other medical issues. Mechai Viravaidhya, a senator who more than 10 years ago introduced the condom to Thailand, said the number of AIDS patients could reach one million within a few years. He is president of the Population and Community Development Association, an NGO with prevention and support programmes for AIDS patients.

Mr Mechai was said to have revolutionised the NGO world in Thailand by looking at ways of making his organisation self-sufficient. He has opened a chain of restaurants named "Cabbages and Condoms" as a means of raising funds.

Thailand has about 850,000 people infected with HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS, of whom about 60,000 have developed the disease. Many men with AIDS in Thailand have taken refuge in temples after being forsaken by families and friends. --By SIMON HOLT, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST


Author: Godfrey, Paul. Asia Training Centre on Ageing.

Out of 22,890 confirmed HIV/AIDS cases, 538 are over the age of 60 with 278 of them from Northern Thailand. San Pa Thong district in Chiang Mai, where this study was conducted, had 76 people with the infection. Another impact of the epidemic is the role reversal experienced by older people. About one third of those who care for people with HIV/AIDS are above the age of 60. They also have the responsibility of supporting other family members and parenting grandchildren. In implementing programmes for community and home based services, older people with their life experience can be a major resource in sustaining them.

Address: Godfred Paul, Asia Training Centre On Aging, Faculty of Nursing, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Fax. (66 53) 221294 -- ABSTRACT FROM THE XI INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON AIDS, VANCOUVER


Authors: Nelson, Kenrad E, Celentano DD, Eiumtrakul S., Hoover DR, Beyrer C., Kuntolbutra S., Khamboonruang C. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD USA, Royal Thai Army, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Research Institute for Health Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Objectives: To determine the temporal trends of HIV prevalence and associations of HIV infection with high risk behavior among 21 year old men conscripted for military service in northern Thailand between 1991 and 1995. To evaluate the effectiveness of the "100% Condom Campaign" of Thailand's Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in preventing HIV infection in adolescents and young men in northern Thailand. Methods: The study population was five cohorts of 21 year old men (N=4309) inducted into the Royal Thai Army by random lottery from six northern provinces of Thailand between May 1991 and May 1995. Healthy men with a history of same sex behavior, drug use or HIV infection were not automatically excluded from conscription. Risk behavior was obtained by direct interview and HIV prevalence assessed by ELISA and Western blot. Statistical significance was evaluated with Mantel-Haenzsel Chi square and logistic regression. Results: HIV prevalence was stable at 10.4%-12.5% in the 1991 and 1993 cohorts but decreased to 6.7% in 1995 (p<.001); HIV prevalence was only 0.7% in men reporting sex with a female CSW only after 1992. The proportion of men reporting sex with a CSW fell from 80% in 1991-1993 to 63.8% in 1995 (p<.01); condom use for sex with a CSW increased from 61.9% in 1991 to 92.5% in 1995 (p<.001). History of an STD (lifetime) decreased from 42.2% in 1991 to 15.2% in 1993 (p<.001). Sex with a CSW and history of an STD were independently significant risk factors in all cohorts. Sex with a girlfriend, sex with a male or injection drug use were significant risks in some cohorts.

Conclusions: Substantial changes in sexual behavior, especially increased condom use during commercial sex have occurred recently among young men in N. Thailand. This successful public health program has resulted in major reductions in HIV and STD infection rates in this population of young adult males.

Address: Kenrad E. Nelson, MD, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health 624 N. Broadway/Room 886, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA, Fax: 410-955-1836 e-mail: Knelson@share.sph.jhu.edu -- ABSTRACT FROM THE XI INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON AIDS, VANCOUVER


Author(s): Langkarpint Prathana. Department of Surgical Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Chiangmai University, Chiangmai, Thailand

The Division of AIDS, Department of Communicable Diseases Control, Thailand has reported that the incidence of HIV infection in Thai women has increased when compare to Thai males. In 1988, the ratio of males versus female infected with HIV/AIDS was 97:3. In 1993 the number of infected women was more than of men with the ratio being 46:54. It is predicted that in the year 2005 it will be 60:40. By the end of December 1994, the number of HIV infected people in Thailand will be around 750,000 with the females infected being around 300,000 which is about 40%. The 20-25 years old females being the most infected. Furthermore, more than 2% of antenatal care are being tested HIV positive. Four groups of Thai women who were affected by HIV/AIDS were studied. The prostitute whose became sex-workers because of the economic impact was found the highest number. The housewife group was reported increasing rate because of their husbands' infections. The teenagers or students follow the western culture and changed their sexual behavior. They still have poor attitude towards condoms.

Address: Prathann Langkarpint, 12 Thumbol Thasala, Muang, Chiangmai Thailand,50000. Tel:053 246878 e- mail:NSSGI003@chiangmai.ac.th -- ABSTRACT FROM THE XI INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON AIDS, VANCOUVER

Rural migration to city fuels AIDS spread July 2, 1996

Rural migration had fuelled the spread of HIV/AIDS in Bangkok, the Population and Community Development Association said yesterday. Bangkok alone has some 150,000 people with HIV, said Meechai Viravaidya, chairman of the association. "It is a matter of urgency to change our attitudes and educate people to practice safe sex," he said.

Expressing concern about sexual contact among people who do not consider themselves to be in high-risk groups, he said: "Unaware carriers, especially females, transmit the virus mostly through normal sexual practice, not in red light establishments where condoms are widely available."

A 1995 study by the Public Health Ministry records the HIV rate in pregnant women at 2.3 percent, of which Bangkok accounts for 1.9 percent. "This means that in 1996, there will be more than 5,000 newborns infected with HIV, adding to 15,000 already born and infected through pregnancy," said Mr Meechai. -- Bangkok Post, The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. All rights reserved 1996. Reposted by permission.

AIDS-related suicides on the rise in North Apr 19, 1996

THAILAND -- The suicide rate among people with HIV/AIDS is rising steadily in the upper North, according to Dr. Suwat Mahatnirandkul, director of Suan Prung psychiatric hospital. "Though the exact figure is not known, there have been numerous cases of suicide among AIDS carriers, especially in the upper North where the epidemic is severe," he said.

Latest data on suicides registered at the Mental Health Department bears out Dr Suwat's concerns. From October 1993 to September 1994, there were 23,751 cases, or 45 people in 100,000, but in the corresponding period of 1992-3, there were 14,396 cases, or 28 in 100,000. Cases recorded in the upper North, which takes in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao and Mae Hong Son, numbered 1,534, or 32 in 100,000 in 1994, while in 1993, there were 1,535 cases, or 35 in 100,000. -- Bangkok Post, The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. All rights reserved 1996. Reposted by permission.

Top officials seal fate of HIV/AIDS relief centre Apr 17, 1996

THAILAND -- A relief centre for people with HIV/AIDS is to quit its Nonthaburi premises by April 25 following a request by senior Public Health and Interior officials. The request was made even though the centre in Soi Rewadee offers only a telephone counselling service and no longer shelters patients. Vibulchai Youreun-ngam, its manager, said the centre would leave premises in line with the request and to avoid further bomb attacks, which would also attract international attention.

"Other countries are looking at what happens to us next," said Mr Vibulchai. "If we don't move out, I'm certain something worse than a threat will happen and we may lose our lives.

The centre, which used to provide shelter and direct counselling for patients, was bombed several times last year but no one was hurt and damage was slight. Most of the people referred to the centre are from the nearby Bamrasnaradura Hospital.

Centre staff had filed complaints with local police but no action had been taken, said Mr Vibulchai. The threats, he said, came from local residents who had even protested at the provincial hall. Following the protest, the centre stopped sheltering patients and provided only counselling by telephone to placate the residents, but to no avail.

Mr Vibulchai said the centre would move to an eastern province he declined to identify for fear of attracting further opposition. His eight staff were very discouraged and uncertain whether they would continue at the new premises. -- Bangkok Post, The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. All rights reserved 1996. Reposted by permission.

Some Donated Blood Tainted With HIV Feb 23, 1996

THAILAND-- About 0.28 percent of donated blood distributed to hospitals throughout the country is contaminated with HIV, according to a Medical Sciences Department report. Some 700,000 units are distributed to 144 hospitals a year, which means an estimated 200 units are contaminated. The Public Health Ministry reported that from September 1995, 38 patients were known to have been infected with donated blood.

Currently, donated blood is anti-HIV tested at the Red Cross Society while the HIV-antigen test is carried out at random because it is time-consuming and needs skilled personnel, sources said. The Cabinet is currently considering purchasing a 383-million-baht (about $1,500,000. USD) computerized blood-checking system for 98 hospitals. -- Bangkok Post, The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. All rights reserved 1996.

Dramatic Rise in Northern Hospital's HIV Cases Dec 18, 1995

THAILAND-- The number of patients seeking AIDS treatments at San Pa Tong Hospital, the district with the greatest number of HIV infected people, has increased ninefold in two years. So far this year there have been 2,651 outpatients with full-blown AIDS. Dr. Visanu Raksakunkarn estimated that there were additionally more than 1000 HIV/AIDS carriers in the district who had not sought treatment. The most common causes of infection were sexual intercourse and mother to child, he said. -- The Nation


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