Thailand: Government Push to Ease HIV Confidentiality Rules for Young People
November 30, 2010
Thai law should be amended to make HIV services available to those under 18 without parental permission, which would encourage early treatment and help reduce the spread of the disease, says Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.
His recent pitch to the Medical Council to amend the law was prompted by increasing HIV infection among youths. The minister believes a lack of access to testing and counseling services is fueling the rise.
An estimated 17,000 to 20,000 Thai teenagers contract HIV each year, with the total number of HIV-positive Thai residents at 400,000, said Jirapat Wongsrikeaw of the Thai Youth Network.
The government has set a goal of reducing new infections by half in the upcoming year and will focus on gay men and "housewives," the health minister said, as they are at highest risk of HIV infection. He noted that the National AIDS Committee on Nov. 1 introduced a syringe-exchange program for injection drug users to help discourage needle sharing.
In addition, the Public Health Ministry has launched a campaign, "Light for Rights," to increase awareness of the rights of persons with HIV.
The Nation (Bangkok)
11.29.2010; Pongphon Sarnsamak
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