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HIV plan to cut infections by two-thirds: New health strategy marks World Aids Day


Thailand aims to reduce the rate of new HIV/Aids infection cases by two-thirds within the next five years to mark World Aids Day today.

The target is contained in a five-year strategic plan adopted by the National HIV/Aids Committee.

It follows a United Nations campaign "Getting to Zero", which aims for an end to new HIV/Aids infections, no discrimination and no HIV/Aids-related deaths.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the number of global HIV/Aids infections has fallen by more than 20% since 1997. New infections are declining in most parts of the world.

About 700,000 lives were saved last year and about 3 million people in low and middle-income countries gained better access to essential HIV/Aids prevention and treatment services.

Sumet Ongwandee, director of the Bureau of HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Sexual Transmitted Diseases, said Thailand has 10,097 new HIV/Aids cases every year. Under the five-year plan the bureau wants to cut the number of new HIV/Aids cases to 3,000 a year.

The rate of HIV/AIDS transmission from mother to child is expected to fall from 3.62% to 2% using a health intervention programme, he said.

Dr Sumet said prevention programmes promoting condoms and education at schools will raise public awareness about safe sex, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

The policy on compulsory drug licencing introduced in late 2006 has extended access to anti-retroviral therapy and has saved the lives of thousands of people living with HIV/Aids.

"Investing more in the drug therapy means investing in people. If people living with HIV/Aids stay healthy, they can work and lead active lives.

"The potential cost will eventually turn into profit for not only people's health but also gross national product as a whole," he said.

Of the 481,770 Thais living with HIV/Aids, 283,612 have been listed for anti-retroviral therapy under three national health schemes covering the civil service, company employees, and the universal healthcare scheme.

Although Thailand has been applauded by the global community for its success in reducing new HIV/Aids cases, ending discrimination remains a challenge, said Petchsri Sirinirand, director of the National Aids Management Centre.

Migrant workers and intravenous drug users who contract HIV/Aids or are at high risk of infection are still left out from essential treatment and counselling, Dr Petchsri said.

"They are still stigmatised as illegals, criminals or drug addicts," she said.

The Narcotics Act and the Drug Rehabilitation Act still regard needle exchange programmes as illegal.


Copyright © 2011 -Bangkok Post, Publisher. All rights reserved to The Bangkok Post. Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal reference) must be cleared through the Bangkok Post.

Information in this article was accurate in December 1, 2011. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.