UNAIDs: Changing the HIV/AIDs situation in Thailand

AIDS Awareness Ribbon

AIDS Awareness Ribbon: Flickr.com

No Government in this world can protect people from HIV/AIDs, the change must come from the people said Dr Michael Hahn, UNAIDs Country Coordinator for Thailand.

This means that the Government can only help by providing the environment to facilitate change, especially to the risk groups such as same-sex groups or drug addicts who share infected needles.

As an international agency for HIV/AIDs, the UNAIDs provide a support system, linking the Government, the civil society and other relevant parties together. It doesn’t reach out to the patients directly but it helps Thailand get the support they need such as technical support, better development policy or training in certain areas such as spreading awareness or prevention methods.

Such methods can be encouraged through condom usage and monitoring the drug injection equipment for the HIV/AIDs risk groups. So far, Thailand has been able to control HIV/AIDs spread through condom compliance and better access to medicine treatments. Dr Hahn said that Thailand has reduced the number of people infected to 10,000 per year.

But the challenge remains on how to propel HIV/AIDs reducing efforts to change and shape behavior. How to make it effective?

This calls into question the messages, the source and the medium that is designed especially for different target groups.

The source of the message is choosing the right opinion leaders or influencers who will influence the decision-makers, namely the Government who will be the main support system.

Another challenge for Thailand is that it must coordinate its activities in a cohesive direction. Dr Hahn said that different units must work together to ensure that efforts are not duplicated or overlapping. The progress must be concurrent so productive results can be achieved. This means effective coordination and communication between the agencies, NGOs and the Government.

Spreading awareness of the disease or informing the prevention methods these days is not enough. Success is measured through the behavioral changes such as shaping the risk group’s behavior. (NNT)