News / Health

New Rise in HIV/AIDS Cases Among Young in Thailand

FILE - Samruei, a 35 year-old terminally ill Thai woman rests with her cat at a hospice for those dying of AIDS at a Buddhist temple Wat Prabat Nampu in Lop Buri.
FILE - Samruei, a 35 year-old terminally ill Thai woman rests with her cat at a hospice for those dying of AIDS at a Buddhist temple Wat Prabat Nampu in Lop Buri.

Thailand's young people are facing a new rise in HIV infections - the virus that causes AIDS. Researchers say they are finding it tougher to reach at-risk populations with messages about safer sex.

In a report released Monday, UNICEF says 70 percent of all sexually transmitted HIV infection cases in Thailand are occurring among people between the ages of 15 and 24.

The report says despite a gradual drop in the overall prevalence of HIV in the country during the past two decades, new infections are now rising -- especially among young people involved in the sex trade, injecting drugs and young men having unprotected sex with men.

Health activists in Thailand note that one of the current challenges in HIV prevention is reaching those engaging in higher-risk behavior.

The HIV/AIDS chief in Thailand for UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), Robert Gass, explains that 10 to 15 years ago it was relatively easy to conduct awareness campaigns, such as discussions in gay bars about the importance of condoms.

“With the advent of social media and a variety of different ways for connecting many people don't ever have to go to a public place to meet other people to engage in sexual activity. They can do things through their phone or through the computer and they can meet up in that particular way. There are even applications that basically show where young men who engage in sex with other men where other people of similar persuasion are. And, so, they're able to find these people through applications on their iPhones,” said Gass.

Health workers say women employed at Thailand’s massage parlors and brothels tend to be protected because the importance of avoiding HIV transmission is better understood and safeguards are practiced.

However, the study has found that non-Thai female sex workers in Thailand often lack access to free health services and essential information on how to prevent HIV.

Gass added that another group of young women is also more vulnerable.

“What we're finding that is more worrisome and more dangerous tend to be those who are engaging in transactional sex, but in a more informal setting. So those who are meeting their clients on street corners or in bars and many of these will be university students or young girls who really don't have the life skills and negotiating ability to ensure that the partners that they spend time with are using condoms,” said Gass.

The study, supported by UNICEF, collected data from nearly 2,000 young people in Thailand who are members of groups deemed to have a higher risk of HIV exposure.

About 500,000 people are estimated to be living with the HIV virus in the kingdom. During the height of the epidemic AIDS was the top killer in the country, but now it is number five, responsible for four percent of all deaths in Thailand.

At the peak of the AIDS crisis in Thailand, HIV infected more than 100,000 young men and drug users before moving into the general population through commercial sex encounters.

Battling HIV and AIDS remains a huge challenge for some of Thailand’s neighbors, especially Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, and Vietnam.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid