Thailand: Men's Clinic Fills Sexual Health Niche
July 22, 2005
Last year, a clinic focusing on homosexuals, bisexuals, and straight male prostitutes with a gay clientele opened at Bang Rak Hospital in Bangkok. Initially called the Chai Rak Chai (Men Love Men Clinic), the clinic offered medical services to male prostitutes working in nearby red-light districts. Through word of mouth and cooperation among gay activist groups, the clinic, which now operates as a Men's Health Clinic,has expanded its services and now provides medical services, counseling, and a place to socialize and to plan outreach activities such as campaigns to promote condom use and peer sex education for gay youths.
A survey conducted a few years ago by Thailand's Disease Control Department and a team from the US CDC found a 17 percent HIV/AIDS rate among prostitutes and gay men at a number of Bangkok cruising parks. Based on that survey, DCD opened the clinic to ensure male sex workers free access to proper health care, said Dr. Sombat Thaenprasertsuk, director of DCD's HIV/AIDS division.
The clinic is open Monday-Friday and can serve only about 20 patients per day. Clinic doctors take extra time to question clients about sexual history, diagnose, and counsel on safe sex, according to Dr. Ungkhana Charoenwatanachokechai, the clinic's director. Besides diagnosing and treating STDs, the clinic will treat patients for any kind of diseases.
Clinic doctors are specially trained to serve men who have sex with men to catch diagnostic nuances non-specialists might miss. DCD plans to open similar clinics in cities around the country and to expand the Bangkok clinic's hours and days of operation.
The Nation (Thailand)
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.