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

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