AIDS Conference: Medicine Vowed for All in Need
July 8, 2003
Health authorities in Thailand yesterday pledged to provide HIV/AIDS drugs for all patients in need and introduced major policies to reduce the spread of the disease. Speaking at the ninth National AIDS Conference, chief of the Diseases Control Department Charan Trinwuthipong said that by 2006, the number of new HIV infections should be limited to 15,000.Adapted from:
Prevention efforts, including authorities promoting the use of condoms, will also focus on youths to ensure they have adequate knowledge about the disease, said Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan. As part of the prevention campaign, the ministry will ask condom sellers to lower prices at vending machines, from Baht 20 (US 48 cents) for two condoms to about Baht 5 (US 12 cents), added Charan.
Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Wallop Thianua vowed that all HIV/AIDS patients needing medicines -- estimated at about 50,000 -- would receive them, but he added that it may be necessary for those who can afford it to pay a portion of the bill.
Though Thailand has garnered global praise for prevention efforts that helped reduce new infections from over 140,000 annually in 1991 to about 20,000 today, World Health Organization expert Dr. Wiwat Rojanapitayakorn said the present numbers are still too high. "There are few countries in this region with 20,000 new cases a year. This figure is unacceptable as it shows we still have a serious problem," said Wiwat, former chief of the ministry's AIDS division.
Despite Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's key initiatives of reducing new cases and instituting universal coverage of HIV/AIDS medicines, experts and AIDS activists say Thaksin should become more visible in the fight. Thaksin should chair the National AIDS Committee and attend the National AIDS Conference to send the message that Thailand is committed to fighting HIV/AIDS, said Senator Mechai Veeravaidhya. Supporting Mechai's call for the Prime Minister to do more, Wiwat said Thaksin must give the same level of importance to HIV/AIDS that other issues considered a threat to national security have received.
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.