Thai Ministry of Health Predicts More Than 10,000 New HIV Cases in 2009
More than 10,000 new HIV cases in Thailand are expected in 2009, according to estimates from a Ministry of Public Health report released on Wednesday, the Bangkok Post reports. Deputy Public Health Minister Manit Nopamornbode said that a majority of the projected 11,700 new cases will occur among women, who will contract the virus from their partners, and men who have sex with men. In addition, the new cases will occur among injection drug users, commercial sex workers and their clients, and individuals who engage in casual sex. According to Manit, the ministry is designing three HIV/AIDS policies to reduce the number of new cases prior to 2011, increase access to social welfare for more than 80% of people living with HIV/AIDS and their families, and provide unrestricted access to antiretroviral drugs. Renu Srisamit, senior adviser at the National Health Security Office, said that 151,909 HIV-positive people were enrolled in the country's universal health care system in 2008.
According to Mechai Veravaidya, chair of the sub-committee on national HIV/AIDS prevention, Thailand's young people are at a high risk of sexually transmitted infections, which have begun to increase in number. According to the Post, a major reason behind the spread of STIs in 2007 was lack of condom use, and 32% of STI cases that year involved young people. Mechai said that only one in five young people use condoms while having sex. He added that data from 2008 showed that 44% of commercial sex workers were students and that the average age for entering sex work is 16. Kittipan Kanjina, a representative of the Youth Network Against HIV/AIDS, said a December 2008 survey showed that 69% of young people in Thailand were unaware of safer-sex practices (Apiradee, Bangkok Post, 2/12).