Siriben SomboonMr. SheridanTSEA Period 7May 12, 2011 AIDS Poison “Cha-on, a factory guard who became infected by HIV through a blood transfusion in 1986, he agreed to speak to reporters, appear on televised talk shows, and visit offices and other workplaces to talk about his experiences”. During 1980s, government viewed AIDS as “outsiders” or foreign disease. Cha-on story has changed Thai perception of AIDS (Hanenberg). First case of AIDS in Thailand was found in 1984. HIV prevalence in Thailand rose dramatically in1988 – 1989. During that time, there were about 40% of injecting drug users and 44% of sex workers inChiang Mai who are infected with HIV. Some groups such as homosexual men, prostitute, injecting drugusers and tourists are more affected than other groups. During 1988 – 1989, Thai government spent$180,000 on HIV prevention (“HIV & AIDS…”). In 1990, Thai government increased the budget to reduceHIV/AIDS from $180,000 to $2.63 million (Henry).Moreover, in 1991, when Anand Panyarachun (a ThaiPrime Minister) came into power, AIDS prevention became the national priority at the highest level. Hetook many steps to try to reduce the HIV prevalence in Thailand (“HIV & AIDS…”). Although the oldgovernment helps people with HIV against discrimination and create policies in the past that havereduced HIV prevalence in Thailand, when the new government (new party) in power, people with HIVgo to AIDS temple to die, there are a lot of discrimination against people living with HIV andgovernment have been reduced. Government has not done enough to help people who are living with HIV. These people go to theAIDS temple to die. It is their last place and this place provides medical care for patients. AIDS templehas cared for more than 10,000 people out of 610,000 people living with HIV in Thailand. This placemakes people who are infected with HIV happy, make them laugh because they do not have to think toomuch. This place help tied people living with HIV together because they are discriminated from thesociety, so they need someone who understand them. People who are infected with HIV are being
dropped to the AIDS temple. Also, many patients arrived at the AIDS temple unannounced and oftenanonymously. This shows that anyone can enter to the AIDS temple and AIDS temple welcome peoplewho are infected with HIV. An example is a man named Jo-Jo. He was unable to speak. After hisgrandmother died, his neighbors brought him to the temple and left him. Another example is Ice. Shewas from Pakistan. She was once a hotel cook before she discovered that she had HIV. She came to theAIDS temple because she feels that no one in her family can take that Ice is infected with HIV. Now, shespent her days listening to Mariah Carey’s songs and waiting to die (“Thailand’s Aids…”). This illustratesthat the government has not done enough to help people who are infected with HIV. With no hope left,people who are infected with HIV go to AIDS temple to die instead of going to the hospital. The Thai government claims that their action/policy to reduce HIV in the past has reduced HIVprevalence in Thailand. The 100% condom program (1991) was used to help reduce the HIV prevalencein Thailand. 100% condom program is the program that enforces condom use in all commercial sexestablishments (Hanenberg). Condoms were distributed for free to sex workers and sex workers arerequired to use them. Due to the use of 100% condom program, the HIV prevalence decreasesignificantly (“HIV & AIDS…”). Percentage of commercial sex that used condoms increase from around15% to more than 90% from 1989 to 1994. Strong pressure to bear with uncooperate brothel ownerswho did not have the commercial sex workers use condoms. This is because if they do not use condoms,they would lose business because no one would work for them. As a result of 100% condom program,the number of men coming to government clinic decreased by more than 90% from 1989 – 1995; whichshows that less people are affected with HIV. With less people who are affected HIV, less people wouldgo to the clinic for HIV (Hanenberg). Many drugs also thwart the spread of HIV; in 1996 – 1997, AZT(zidovudine) is a drug that helped to reduce mother to child transmission of HIV. Mother who areinfected with HIV and use this drug reduce the rate mother to child transmission of HIV by 50%. Inaddition, in 2000, Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) are also being used to treat people living with HIV. Theeffect of using this drug is that there is a significant decrease in the number of people dying from AIDS.Old government makes sure the treatment for people living with HIV is adequate and sets targets toimprove the treatment (“HIV & AIDS…”). Hundreds of STD treatment centers were set up in districthospitals consel both infected and uninfected people and distributed condoms. Moreover, governmentincreases the number of facilities to treat and track STDs (Hanenberg). For example, if the couple knowsthe HIV status of each other, they can make decision about condom use and having children. Couple canalso use contraception (not to have any more children) if the couple have HIV (“Action Taken…”). By theend of 2007, HIV prevalence in Thailand decrease from 1.8% (in 2003) to 1.4% (in 2007) (“HIV & AIDS…”).
Also Cha-on’s story created more awareness of HIV within Thailand. Cha-on’s stories on his experiencesliving with HIV appeared on television which make people become more aware of HIV effects. While it is true that Thai government had reduced HIV prevalence in Thailand, the HIVprevalence in Thailand now has increased. Now, the new government (new party) is not doing enoughto reduce HIV in Thailand. Due to a decrease in HIV prevalence in Thailand, government reduced its HIVprevention budget by two thirds in 2006. Moreover, condom use had decreased which also increase theSTI transmission rate. Also, no new prevention campaigns would affect young people because youngpeople would grow up not knowing the risks that they are facing. The new government (new party)takes actions (increase HIV prevention efforts, television campaign), but these actions have not workedto reduce HIV prevalence in Thailand. After September 2006, the government decided to increase HIVprevention efforts. Furthermore, in 2007, 3 years strategic plan was announced, which focused onpeople who are most at risk of HIV infection and group of people who are difficult to reach. Also, in 2007,television campaign promoted condom use among adults and teenagers, but it damaged Thai culturesince it encourages sexual activity. Therefore, sexual activity among teenagers increased. All of theseactions that the new government (new party) has done to try to help reduce the HIV prevalence are notworking because HIV prevalence for men who have sex with men rose from 17% to 24.7% between 2003and 2009. HIV prevalence for immigrant workers also increase because of language difficulties, soimmigrants workers are more likely to buy commercial sex. These people are lack of knowledge aboutHIV/AIDS (“HIV & AIDS…”), so there are more chance for the immigrant workers to become infectedwith HIV. The actions in the past had reduce HIV prevalence in Thailand, but the actions from the newgovernment (new party) have increase the HIV prevalence in Thailand. The government has worked to some extent to reduce discrimination against people living withHIV/AIDS in Thailand. In 2010, 71% of countries have some form of laws to protect people living with HIVfrom discrimination. However, there are some countries that have laws that restrict the entry, stay andresidence of people living with HIV, but this is not true of Thailand (“HIV & AIDS Stigma…”). Thailanddoes not have laws that restrict the entry of people living with HIV. Government also tries to put moreweight on eliminating discrimination in medical settings in Thailand. Government has prepared guidelines for the clinical management of children. In addition, government has introduced various smallscale projects to care for children orphaned by AIDS. There is a strong proposal to improve follow up andsupport for people who are infected with HIV (“Action Taken…”). Government also help people livingwith HIV against discrimination by having Cha-on’s (a man who became infected by HIV through a
blood transfusion) story be in media, which make people become aware about HIV (Henry).Governmenthas tried many ways such as small projects and media campaign to reduce discrimination against peopleliving with HIV in Thailand. It is true that the government has worked to help reduce discrimination against people living withHIV/AIDS in Thailand; however there are still a lot of discriminations toward people with HIV/AIDS.Although some countries have laws that help protect people living with HIV, there are many laws thathave been justified on the grounds that HIV/AIDS causes a public health risk (“HIV & AIDS Stigma…”).Moreover, many people also discriminate towards people with HIV by seperating them from society(“Thailand’s Aids…”). Furthermore, there is also discrimination against people living with HIV inworkplace. Social isolation, experience discriminatory practices, refusal from work might happen topeople living with HIV in workplace. These occur around the world toward people living with HIV. Anexample is in India, a Head of Human Resource Development has stated that “though we do not have apolicy so far, I can say that if at the time of recruitment there is a person with HIV, I will not take him. I’llcertainly not buy a problem for the company” (“HIV & AIDS Stigma…”). People living with HIV in Thailandalso have no rights to choose when, how and to whom to disclose their HIV status. There were about 34%of the people living with HIV in Thailand reported violation on confidentiality by health workers. Whenpeople who are infected with HIV go to facilities, they can get refused to access to facilities, medicines,or receiving HIV testing without consent. Some facilities even covered the chair, the light and thedoctors were wearing three pairs of gloves when they were examining HIV patient. Another factor thatfuelling discrimination among doctors and nurses is the lack of protective equipment (“HIV & AIDSStigma…”). Thai doctors do not want to work with HIV-positive patients. Furthermore, there is no Thaidoctor in AIDS temple because they are scared of getting HIV and they do not want to be in contact withpeople who are infected with HIV. The Thai doctors also prefer to work at private hospitals because theycan earn more money at the private hospital. AIDS temple is where people who are infected with HIV goto die. People who work/help at the AIDS temple went to Lopburi hospital, talk to the healthdepartment and make advertisements on websites, but no one applied to help people living with HIV(“Thailand’s Aids…”). People living with HIV might also be discriminated even in their family. An exampleis a HIV positive woman was at the hospital and when her dad came, he shouted at her. She had to sleepin the kitchen and she was not allowed to eat from the same plates with other people in the family (“HIV& AIDS Stigma…”). This illustrates that the government did not do enough to help people who areinfected with HIV because people living with HIV are being discriminated against everywhere they gobecause they are different from other people.
In conclusion, some actions of government had helped people living with HIV againstdiscrimination and reduce the HIV prevalence, but there is discrimination against people living with HIV,the HIV prevalence has increases and people who are infected with HIV go die at the AIDS temple. Withnot enough government actions, the HIV prevalence in Thailand has increased. Government’s actions forreducing HIV prevalence in Thailand should continue like in the past in order for the HIV prevalence todecrease.