Thailand and HIV/AIDS

Thailand's record in tackling one of Asia's earliest and most severe AIDS epidemics is frequently cited as an example of what imaginative and sensitive policies can achieve. When AIDS took hold in Thailand in the early 1990s, the state medical system was quickly overwhelmed. Authorities turned to religious and other non-governmental groups for help in caring for the growing number of infected people. This bold move helped to spread the burden of care through the community and to reduce the deep stigma attached to the illness.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health studied more than 100,000 AIDS cases in Thailand between 1994 and 1998 and found that the number of reported cases rose from 12,005 in 1994 to over 22,500 in 1996, and then leveled off at approximately 24,000 in 1997 and 1998. The researchers noted that 80 percent of the patients were male, 83 percent between the ages of 20 and 40, and 87 percent of the cases were acquired via sexual intercourse.

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