Thais Need Information on Coping With HIV/AIDS; Young People ‘In Denial’ About Dangers, UNDP Survey Says
Although Thai people are well-informed about HIV/AIDS and how to avoid contracting the virus, they need additional information on coping with HIV/AIDS and supporting people who are living with the disease, according to the results of a survey recently released by the United Nations Development Programme and the Research Institute of Bangkok University, Thailand's Nation reports. The survey also found that many young people are "in denial" about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and that about 80% of 15- to 25-year-olds believe they are not at risk of contracting HIV. A team of researchers surveyed about 7,500 people in five provinces throughout the country, including single and married people, men and women, and individuals from both rural and urban areas. About 69% of the people surveyed said that Thai children should be taught about HIV/AIDS in primary school, and about 61% of the respondents said that the Thai government should do more to fight HIV/AIDS, according to the Nation. "The findings are very interesting," Hakan Bjorkman, UNDP's deputy representative, said, adding, "Both good and bad trends are evident" (Sukin, Nation, 11/26).
The UNDP/RIBU poll confirms that HIV/AIDS is "still a problem" in Thailand and that the government needs to do more to maintain "effective" prevention programs, address the stigma attached to the disease and fight the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases among young people in the country, journalist Mukdawan Sakboon writes in a Nation opinion piece. The continued "ignorance" about HIV/AIDS among Thai people is "discouraging" because government agencies and other organizations have worked "relentlessly" to correct "misunderstandings," Sakboon says. The survey tells the government that it "cannot just carry on telling the world about the country's success in reducing the number of new HIV infections while doing exactly nothing" to maintain an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign or address discrimination against HIV-positive people, the high HIV prevalence among injection drug users or the rising number of HIV cases among young people, Sakboon says. The survey's findings "capture the real situation of HIV/AIDS in Thailand" and should be "read carefully by the authorities ... and translated into action accordingly," Sakboon concludes (Sakboon, Nation, 11/27).