Loan Program for People With HIV Aims To ‘Overcome’ Stigma, Encourage Business
A program organized by Thai Sen. Mechai Viravaidya to help HIV-positive people begin careers and "overcome social isolation" has given about 1,000 small, short-term loans to business partners in Thailand in the last two and a half years, Mechai said Friday at the end of the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, the New York Times reports. The program gives loans averaging $300 for six to 12 months to applicants living with HIV who agree to become business partners with an HIV-negative person. According to Mechai, the program has about $500,000 in available funds. The program began with $100,000 in private funds and expanded after receiving a $50,000 grant from the United Nations and a $354,000 grant from drug company Pfizer. The program aims to provide HIV-positive people with the economic means to break the stigma and discrimination that can prevent such individuals from working, according to Mechai, the Times reports. The program also intends to "strengthen bonds between infected and uninfected people," according to the Times. Thailand has 600,000 people living with HIV, and most are unemployed. Some loan recipients have worked to make candles, sell flowers, carve stones and manage laundry facilities and Internet cafes, the Times reports. About 70% of recipients repay the loans at an annual 6% interest rate, according to the Times (Altman, New York Times, 7/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.