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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
A Gathering Storm
Fairclough, Gordon
October 9, 1995
Far Eastern Economic Review (09/21/95) Vol. 158, No. 38, P. 26

In Thailand, the first Asian nation to be affected by the AIDS epidemic, HIV is taking its toll on those populations least able to afford it--poor families who lose their primary wage- earners and must then pay for their care. The country's five- year-old AIDS education campaign has stemmed the spread of HIV, but the effort came too late for the many who are already infected. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 3.5 million Asians are infected with HIV--about 750,000 of whom are in Thailand. The disease is also spreading rapidly through Burma and Cambodia, though public health specialists say the worst case could be in India, where an estimated 1.5 million people are HIV-positive. Meanwhile, Thailand is already dealing with a labor shortage, and AIDS-related deaths could increase the problem. According to one study, the number of Thai workers was initially expected to increase 7.8 percent between 1993 and 2000, but will now rise just 6.7 percent. This will not only make the Thai economy less competitive, but it will also obstruct efforts to increase the education and skills of the working population. Still, the Thai government has been relatively lucky in that its prevention efforts have been facilitated by a fairly efficient and extensive government bureaucracy, a powerful media, and an educated and literate society.