Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Burmese refugees' Christmas story - Eureka Street

Burmese refugees' Christmas story - Eureka Street
A great story about the daily struggles of HIV-positive Burmese immigrants living in Thailand that highlights the striking contrasts throughout modern Thailand. An important article to read as we head into Christmas and think about all the blessings we have.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ARV Supply Concerns Along Thai/Burma Border

ReliefWeb recently published an article examining the high demand but low supply of antiretroviral drugs among migrants living along the Thai/Burma border and the dangers of a disruption in the daily drug regimen for those taking the drugs for their tuberculosis and/or HIV/AIDS.

In addition, the article examines how most migrants have limited access to drugs to begin with - particularly those without Thai ID - and how starting this month there will be even more limited access for anyone newly infected.

Drug resistance is a growing threat in this population, according to ReliefNet, and is a situation that is "here to stay - at least for now."

Monday, December 6, 2010

60,000 Thai Civil Servants With HIV/AIDS

Last week Dr. Somyot Kittimunkong, director of the AIDS division at Thailand's Disease Control Department, said that about 60,000 of the country's civil servants have HIV and that about 20,000 seek reimbursement for antiretroviral drugs each year, Asia One reports.

There are about 520,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand. In 2010, there has been about 10,853 new infections among adults and children, according to Asia One.

About 250,000 people have used the National Health Security Office's free HIV blood testing services and about 7% have been found to be HIV positive.

In other news, Dr. Samlee Plianbangchang, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Southeast Asia, recently said that HIV/AIDS infection rates among children increased by 46% between 2001 and 2009, the Malaysian news agency Bernama reports.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day 2010

Yesterday, the CAM staff marked World AIDS Day with a flood of activity. Half the staff caravanned around the streets of Chiang Mai with a a coalition of other AIDS organizations visiting schools and discussing safe sex, asking kids to write their prayers and hopes to combating AIDS on pieces of paper that were placed on a tree. The day culminated with an exciting 4-hour closing ceremony at a large public plaza in the heart of Chiang Mai.

Meanwhile closer to Bangkok, members of the CAM team conducted HIV/AIDS prevention and sexuality trainings at schools that have never before been exposed to such information. The Bangkok team will be traveling down to Church of Christ in Thailand headquarters to conduct a worship service on Friday morning focused on HIV/AIDS in the region. Because the Bangkok team has yet to return, we do not have pictures to post for them quite yet. Here are pictures from the Chiang Mai celebration.

Monday, November 29, 2010

HIV Patients Facing Discrimination in Asia

Voice of America on Tuesday posted a fascinating article and video (see below) on the continuing discrimination HIV patients face throughout Asia, including in Thailand. The article notes how a person's job, place in the family and even legal status can be affected by positive diagnosis.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Great Read/Listen

Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "Connect Asia" Radio program on Monday featured a story on the work of Mercy Centre, a clinic and orphanage helping children with HIV living in Bangkok's slum community of Klong Toey.

The piece is both powerful and important as we approach World AIDS Day on Wednesday. To hear it or read a transcript, please go to http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/201011/s3079191.htm

Great New Developments in Battle Against HIV/AIDS

Last week was a turning point in the worldwide battle against HIV/AIDS. In a battle where positive developments are often hard to come by, three separate news stories shined a ray of hope in an otherwise very dismal struggle.

1.) In many ways, the most important development to come out last week was the release of a study that found that the antiretroviral treatment Truvada taken as a pre-exposure prophylaxis among sex who have sex with men can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 44%. In addition, the study found that among those that stuck most rigidly to the daily drug regimen, there was a 73% lower risk of infection (Voice of America, 11/23)

2.) The United Nations' AIDS agency also released a report last week finding that there has been a 20% decrease in the new HIV infections over the last decade. According to the agency, there are 33.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide with 7,000 new infections each day (AP/TMCnet World News, 11/28).

3.) The Pope announced that it is a lesser evil to use a condom than to infect a partner with HIV, a major development in the Catholic Churches position on the use of condoms (Bangkok Post, 11/21).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi Addresses HIV/AIDS Patients in Burma

On Wednesday, newly freed pro-democracy Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi spoke to more than 70 patients at a "safe house" for people living with HIV/AIDS in Rangoon, the Irrawaddy reports. The house is one of three operated by young members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in South and North Dagon Townships where patients are provided with free food and medicine.

Last Saturday, Suu Kyi was released after seven years of house arrest.

In her remarks to a crowd of nearly 500, Suu Kyi told those with HIV/AIDS to keep a "strong spirit" and called for increased financial support to combat the virus, Democratic Voice of Burma reports.

Mizzima reports that more than 360,000 residents of Burma are living with HIV/AIDS. According to UN Aids statistics, the junta’s Health Ministry spends about US$100,000 annually on its Aids eradication campaign.

"What we can do now is try to get as much medicine as we can for the patients here,"Suu Kyi stressed, adding, "We need a lot of money to get antiretroviral drugs... We need money for food. We need money for more housing."

"People have value as human beings whatever happens, or whatever disease happens to you," Suu Kyi said. “Everybody has their own values so you don’t need to be discouraged. You must uplift your spirits and strength. I say these words not only to the patients but also to everybody … high and low status depends only on each person. Everybody needs to know that they can consider themselves a dignified person.”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Safe-Sex in Thailand

Last week, IRIN Asia PlusNews reported that only 2% of Thailand's AIDS budget goes toward condoms, thus "stack[ing] the odds" against the country's attempts to promote safe-sex and curb the prevalence of HIV, which is currently more than 1% - one of the highest rates in the region.

There are currently 481,770 people living with HIV in Thailand, with 10,000 new infections each year, according to the UN's 2010 report from the General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS.

Although the most-at-risk groups continue to be injection drug users and men who have sex with men, Thailand's Epidemic Model projects that more than one-third of new HIV infections in 2010 will occur in long-term relationships and 7 percent from risky sex.

Despite these figures, Thailand's condom marketing and distribution budget of US$775,000 has continued to focus on the commercial sex industry.

Michael Hahn, UNAIDS country coordinator for Thailand, told IRIN that the Thai goverment "thinks there are enough condoms easily available and affordable in the market, and they don't see the need for providing them," an assumption that is "now under review as the country plans its national strategy for 2012 to 2016."

"Instead of equating condoms with sex work and sexually transmitted infections, we need to change the image - that they're for safety and for love," according to Praween Payapvipapong, an adviser to the Bangkok NGO Population and Community Development Association, noting that a shift in attitude is needed in addition to an increase in condom distribution funds.

According to the Department of Disease Control , 60% of sexually active teenagers do not regularly using condoms, 50% of MSM and 40% of sex workers.

New Blog Feature!

Hello readers!

In an effort to keep you more "In the Know with CAM," it is important to also be "in the know" on issues related to HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia. So starting today the CAM blog will be occassionally highlighting news articles on the topic.

Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Face at CAM

Hello CAM followers,

I'm Julia Moss, an American Jewish World Service (AJWS) volunteer from Washington, DC who will be working for CAM through the end of January. I'm very excited about this latest adventure and to be part of the amazing CAM team. Everyone is so welcoming and dedicated and I'm hoping to be as much of an asset to the organization as I can.

It's been an interesting transition from my bustling life in Washington, DC working in the world of progressive Jewish social action to the more zen world of Chiang Mai working in the world of Christian health and holistic care services.

While I'm originally from Los Angeles, I've been living inDC for 6 years - first as a college student and now as a working professional. I decided to come to Thailand with AJWS after spending more than two years as a health care policy reporter and wanting some global perspective on the effects of health care policy and the world of grassroots service. Back in DC I now work for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where I help them in their mission to ensure the rights of all those effected by US policy. They have been gracious enough to give me three months to come here to Chiang Mai and work with CAM in their mission to ensure the well being of all those effected by HIV/AIDS in the region. I feel blessed to be here and working for such a noble and important cause.

I look forward to keeping you "in the know."

- Julia Moss, 24

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"My Story" by Paul

Hello everyone. I feel very excited and happy to have the opportunity to share my story with you today. My name is Paul. I am 16 years old, and in 9th grade level of education at a government school. I want to tell you a little about my life and the help I have received from the CAM staff.
When I was a baby I lived together with my mother and father, but when I was just 2 years old my father became very unwell, and died. My mother and I were very sad, and we moved to live with my grandparents.
Just before my father died, he had begun to be sick often, and needed to stay in hospital. We knew then that he was HIV positive. My mother decided to have herself and me tested for the virus too, and we were both positive too. I was still very young, so my mother chose not to explain what this result meant, although from an early age I knew that I had something called HIV inside me because I had to visit the doctor at the hospital very often, and take special medicine since I was 4 years old. I heard the nurses and doctors at the hospital talk about HIV, and use my name at the same time. I understood that I too was HIV positive, just like my father, but my mother thought I was too young to understand. She told me when I was about 10 years old, although I had known for several years before this.
When I was 8 years old my mother also began to become sick, and I and my grandparents tried to help look after her. I did not go to school at the time when she was unwell because I helped look after her and there was no one to send me to school. Our home was very near the home of one of the staff members of CCT AIDS Ministry(CAM), and Phii Oom started to visit my mother when she was ill. She helped us all as a family, by encouraging us, helping my mother access medicines to help her, and just being our friend at a time when we needed love and support. After my mother started taking medicines too, her health started to improve, and she was able to look after herself again, I returned to school, and we live happily together as a family.
Through CAM I have had many opportunities to take part in activities that help me understand how to live with HIV better, and how to have a good quality of life. We also have many times, through CAM, to have special times together as a family, alongside other families who also are living with HIV. Last year, I joined in a special programme, with 20 other young people to learn ways to tell our story, through the written word, verbally and through a photographic album of our lives via scrapbooking. I feel this helps me to express myself better, and understand my feelings better, as well as help keep my good relationship with my mother. In the future I would like to stay healthy and strong, able to complete my studies, and be able to work well when I finish at school. I ask you here to pray for me and my family, pray that we will continue to live together well, and lead healthy lives.
To the CAM staff I want to say thank you for your help and support for both me, and for my mother, and especially thank you for providing me with the opportunity to travel out of Thailand for the first time ever, and to share my story here at this special meeting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

“My Story” by Jenny

“We cannot choose the circumstances of our birth but we can choose how we live out our lives”

My name is Jenny. I am 18 years old. My father died when I was a young girl, and my mother remarried and I and my little sister lived with my grandmother. We were both HIV positive as a result of my mother’s infection.

I got to know the staff of CAM since I was 5 years old, because they visited my neighbours, and then our family. My neighbor introduced us to CAM because they knew that my 3 year old sister was unwell, and then CAM realized my grandmother was caring for 2 small children who were HIV positive. My sister died when she was just 5 years old and I was 7 years old. CAM has continued to help us and visit us almost every month for over 10 years, and have helped us with many things, such as school costs ( such as fees, uniforms, food and books) and have always been a source of encouragement and advice for my grandmother and I. CAM staff are like family to me- Khun Nawanat and Khun Jaruwan have been like a mother for me throughout my life.They have helped put me in touch with hospitals and social services that are available to help people living with HIV/AIDS. Through this I have been able to attend camps and training sessions with other young people living with HIV, like me. I have a very good doctor, Dr Suparat, at the hospital who shows care and empathy for all of us- she is a very special lady.

I have now finished my school studies and will be going to university this year. I would first like to study to be a nurse. I want to be able to help and care for other people, especially my family members and my friends who are also HIV positive. I want to help them to be strong and healthy despite being HIV positive. If I am unable to be a nurse, I would like to be a senior school teacher so that I can help teach young people to be good citizens.

I would like to thank Dr Erlinda and the CCA AIDS Programme for sponsoring me and giving me the opportunity to share my story with you all. May God Bless you.
Thank you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Channels of Hope HIV/AIDS workshop

Channels of Hope HIV/AIDS workshop was lead by World Vision along with the help of CAM. The workshop was a 3 day event with extensive material to cover. We started the proceedings with an opening ceremony of lighting a candle and reading scriptures that described being the salt and light of the earth. There were participants from several groups throughout Thailand. The workshop was held at the Dynasty Hotel in Bangkok.

We initially started out with drawing a picture of how we saw HIV/AIDS in our community and then we had to describe our picture and explain why we drew what we drew. This way we got to see different perspectives of how each other views HIV/AIDS in their own community. We all have different views, but we can all work together to achieve our goals.

We all participated in very interesting and thought provoking activities. Such as this activity in which we simulated the human body and how our immune system works and how foreign invaders like the common cold, TB, infections and HIV enters our bodies. Some of the participants had to direct the actors to play out the scene of HIV entering the body. This was a great way for the participants to really understand how our body defends itself and where are weaknesses make us vulnerable to infections.

We learned how HIV can be spread with this activity. We all had test tubes with clear liquid so everybody looked the same. We were instructed to pipet some liquid from our tube and put it in your partners tube and then we switched to different partners 3 different times. Once we all had the chance to exchange fluids with 4 different people, 2 people were called to the front to have their tubes tested for HIV. The instructor put a drop of chemical in the tubes and if the liquid started to turn pink that meant you were infected with HIV. Initially, only one person had the infection in their tube. The two volunteers to be tested first were then asked to point out the people that they exchanged fluids with and they were brought up front for testing. This was done again and again until we had everybody tested and from one infection it was spread to 15 out of the 32 participants.

This activity was designed to challenge us to think how we view activities that range from Healthy to Unhealthy and from Lawful to Unlawful. For instance we had to put people holding the placards in order from Healthy to Unhealthy. Ranging from masturbation within marriage to adultery and prostitution. We had to explain why we placed the people in their hierarchy and why. It was a great way of challenging viewpoints and learning from one another. Sometimes it takes a different perspective than your own to enhance the learning process.

One of the highlights of the activities was the condom on the cucumber. Everybody got a good laugh and we all learned some things in the process too. It is important to learn how to prevent HIV spread by using condoms. We need to get past our fears and embarrassment of activities like this and really learn the right way of protecting ourselves.

In this activity we had to list all the ways different groups of people are affected by HIV and how they are affected socially, spiritually, economically and politically. Then we had a representative from each group explain what they came up with.

At the closing ceremony we prayed for each other and tied prayer strings around each others wrists to remind us of how we are all working together to help our community.

We all took communion and lit candles from the single candle that was lit at the opening ceremony. We all stood around in a circle and held hands while a few people from each group responded about how grateful they were to participate in this workshop. Gifts were given out to key people responsible for putting the workshop together and a final prayer was said.

A group photo of all the participants. Now lets go out and be the salt and the light and not let these just be words, but put into action. Please pray for all the people participating in the workshop and the communities they serve.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grateful to be back

We are the Faucett Family. Brett, Shelly, Acacia and Annapurna and we are mission partners working under InterServe USA. Brett is working at CAM helping the staff with English, grant/report writing, going on site visits and all things media related, such as this blog. We spent almost 6 months in the States to raise support to come back to Thailand and we are very excited to be back. I'm very eager to get back to work with the wonderful people at CAM. They are doing an amazing job and are greatly appreciated by the people they serve.
Stay tuned for further posts.
Sawat dii khrap