Thailand Has ‘Lost Momentum’ in Fight Against AIDS, UNDP Report Says
Thailand, which had been considered a "global model" in fighting HIV/AIDS, has "lost its momentum" in its efforts to combat the epidemic, according to a report released on Thursday by United Nations Development Programme, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. The report, "Thailand's Response to HIV/AIDS," says that the country's public information and education campaigns are "faint"; public concern about the disease has "ebbed"; funding for HIV/AIDS programs "no longer matches the renewed threat"; and HIV prevalence in the country is "unacceptably high" among injection drug users, men who have sex with men, mobile populations and "seafarers" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 7/8). During the 1980s, Thailand was considered to be "on the verge" of an HIV/AIDS "explosion," and it was estimated that four million people living with HIV/AIDS would die by 2002, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. However, the country undertook massive efforts to combat the disease and improved its "track record," according to the AP/Newsday. The current death toll is 400,000 and the number of new HIV cases has fallen from 142,000 a year in 1991 to 19,000 a year in 2004. However, the report says that current prevention efforts "do not measure up to the new realities of a shifting epidemic" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/8). Robert England, an author of the UNDP report, said, "The epidemic is evolving and there are now clear warning signs of a possible new wave of infections," adding, "Past success must not turn into complacency and inaction in the future" (Reuters, 7/8). Hakan Bjorkman, UNDP deputy resident representative and an author of the report, said, "Thailand may very well be in for a nasty surprise," adding, "If Thailand's success turns into failure, the world would lose a leading light in the response to HIV, and this could have great implications for global response" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 7/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.