|AIDS Awareness and Prevention
Twelve years after the establishment of
PDA's family planning and population management activities, along came
AIDS. The first AIDS victim in Thailand was detected in 1984. If this
problem was not tackled, it was predicted that by the year 2000 there
would be between 2-4 million infected persons, and one in every three
deaths in Thailand would be AIDS-related.
PDA was one of the first to sound the
alarm about the possible rapid spread of HIV and AIDS in Thailand. It
has responded with an AIDS program that fights the epidemic with a combination
of prevention, information dissemination, and care projects. AIDS prevention
efforts respond to broad societal needs for accurate information and frank
discussion as well as the needs of different communities. Through vocational
training and education projects, PDA has helped to give villagers economic
alternatives to the commercial sex industry, especially for young northern
women who are often targeted by recruiters.
PDA pushed for, and helped establish, a national
AIDS education program. The Prime Minister became the Chair of the National
AIDS Committee, and funding for the program was increased from US$2M to
US$50M in 1991. PDA also educated its network of village family planning
agents in the causes and prevention of AIDS, emphasizing compassion and
understanding. The campaign also aimed to change sexual norms of behavior
in society, particularly that of people involved in the sex industry,
young people, and the public in general. Several sex and AIDS education
projects tackled the issue through training and peer group exercises in
schools, prisons, and other groups in the community.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Interior,
PDA also trained government officers, district officers, governors, and
community leaders, such as monks, to inform the wider community abut AIDS.
Training was organized for employees of private companies to make them
aware of the dangers and to de-stigmatize the disease.
Anonymous Mobile Clinic and Condom Nights
An anonymous mobile clinic unit provides
blood tests for AIDS in areas close to red light districts and places
of entertainment, so that anyone can be tested in strict confidence and
Moreover, PDA conducts "Condom
Nights" and "Miss
Anti-AIDS Beauty Pageants" in the most popular sex districts
of Bangkok (including Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy). This provides an excellent
opportunity to inform the target group who has the highest risk of HIV
infection, prostitutes and their clients, about AIDS prevention.