Lack of Condom Use, Ignorance Contributes to HIV Spread Among Young Muslims in Southern Thailand
Young Muslims in Thailand's southern provinces are at risk of contracting HIV because their religious beliefs oppose condom use and ignorance about sex is widespread, the Bangkok Post reports. Wannakanok Pohedaedao, a 25-year-old Muslim who teaches HIV prevention in her village and nearby communities, urged health authorities to create a network so that Muslim teenagers, as well as adults, can openly discuss HIV/AIDS issues. "The government should not just only talk, but it has to prove that it would like to solve the problem of HIV/AIDS infection among young people by listening to our calls and working with us," Wannakanok said during the opening of a three-day national conference on HIV/AIDS in Thailand. She added that teens often ask her to obtain condoms and contraceptive pills for them because they are too embarrassed to buy the products at convenience stores. Public Health Minister Suchai Charoenratanakul on Wednesday expressed concern about teens having sexual relationships at an early age, which has led to a significant increase in the number of HIV cases among young people in the country. As many as 80,000 young people in Thailand are HIV-positive, and about 600 new cases are detected in the age group annually, according to the Post. Katherine Bond, associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation, said the country so far has used the majority of its national HIV/AIDS budget to purchase antiretrovirals and other medical supplies rather than using the funding to focus on education and prevention. She called on the government and educational institutions to create more programs to foster close relationships between teens and adults, which she said would help combat the disease (Apiradee, Bangkok Post, 7/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.