Thailand Announces Fewer AIDS-Related Deaths, New HIV Cases in 2005
Thailand's Ministry of Public Health on Monday announced that the number of AIDS-related deaths in the country declined from 5,020 in 2004 to 1,640 in 2005, Thailand's The Nation reports (The Nation, 1/3). The health ministry's Disease Control Department also announced that the number of new HIV cases in 2005 declined by about 10% to about 18,000 in 2005 (Bobb, VOA News, 1/4). DCD also reported that the number of people who developed AIDS decreased from 13,364 in 2004 to 8,681 in 2005. DCD Director-General Thawat Suntharcharn said the decrease in the number of new AIDS cases and AIDS-related deaths can be attributed to the government's antiretroviral drug program (The Nation, 1/3). The health ministry announced in July 2005 that the country planned to provide low-cost antiretrovirals to the more than 500,000 HIV-positive people who live in the country. Thailand already provides antiretrovirals at no cost to about 50,000 low-income HIV-positive people under a pilot program that provides basic care to all Thai people (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/4/05). Thawat said that about 80,000 HIV-positive people now are receiving antiretroviral drug treatment through the government program. Public Health Minister Pinij Charusombat said that the ministry could further improve care for HIV/AIDS patients, adding that the government plans to open new clinics targeted at men who have sex with men (The Nation, 1/3). The majority of new HIV cases last year occurred among teenagers and MSM, Thawat said, adding that the country provided 24 million condoms to high risk groups last year to aid prevention efforts (VOA News, 1/4).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Profiles Christian Mission
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday profiled a "small but dedicated network" of Redemptorist priests and volunteers who in 2000 opened the Sarnelli House in Nong Khai, Thailand for children who are HIV-positive or whose parents have died from AIDS-related illnesses. The priests, many of whom were trained at the Redemptorist Retreat Center in Oconomowoc, Wisc., traveled to Thailand for Christian missionary work. "Kids ... are looking for someone to care about them," the Rev. Michael Shea, who works at the Sarnelli House, said, adding, "I keep them until they are on their own" (Lalwani, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/2).