Thai Government Establishes Telephone Hotline Providing Details of National Antiretroviral Drug Distribution Program
Thailand's Ministry of Public Health has established a telephone hotline center to provide details about the government's antiretroviral drug distribution program, the Bangkok Post reports (Bhatiasevi, Bangkok Post, 12/12). The Thai government in October launched a program to provide antiretroviral drugs to 50,000 HIV-positive people in the country. The program has a budget of nearly $25 million, according to Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan. The program, which will target postpartum women and children, will provide drugs first to people who show mild symptoms of HIV. However, all HIV-positive children younger than one year will receive the drugs regardless of their symptoms (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/3). The program will offer three different drug combination therapies to HIV/AIDS patients based on their immune status, according to the Post. Most participants will receive a combination of stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine, which will cost about $30 per patient per month, according to the Post. About 2% of participants will receive a combination of stavudine, lamivudine and efavirenz, which costs about $100 per patient per month, and 5% of patients will be treated with a combination of stavudine, lamivudine, indinavir and ritonavir, which costs about $175 per patient per month. Charal Trinvuthiphong, director general of the Disease Control Department, has called for HIV/AIDS patients to undergo testing to determine their immune status, which is the "first step to enrolling" in the program, adding that people who do not meet the program's requirements will not be able to obtain treatment, according to the Post (Bangkok Post, 12/12). The program is expected to reach about 10% of the estimated one million HIV-positive people in the country, according to a health department report. Thailand's Government Pharmaceutical Organization manufactures low-cost generic versions of antiretroviral drugs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/3).
The Washington Post on Saturday profiled Thailand's efforts to care for more than 300,000 children -- both HIV-positive and HIV-negative -- who have lost their parents due to AIDS-related death. Thailand fought AIDS "aggressively" during the 1990s, emerging as a role model for other developing countries, the Post reports. However, the country's success in fighting the epidemic has caused complacency, officials and AIDS advocates say, and Thailand is facing rising incidence rates in some risk groups, such as gay men and injection drug users. "Gone is the heyday of aggressive condom campaigns and politicians talking openly about the problem," Hakan Bjorkman, a representative of the U.N. Development Programme, said, adding, "HIV/AIDS has fallen off the political radar screen in Thailand" (Nakashima, Washington Post, 12/13). The complete article is available online.