AIDS-prevention officials take on Soi 6

Friday, 11 July 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 28 By  Surasak Huasoon

AIDS-prevention groups found themselves more welcome when they tried again to get the city’s many bar workers to agree to voluntary HIV testing and counseling.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome opened “VCT Day,” or “voluntary counseling and testing day” with 10 organizations and city departments July 1.

The Pattaya Public Health Department offered free blood tests for HIV and AIDS, as well as health screenings covering diabetes, blood pressure, body mass and more.

A Soi 6 employee receives a free blood and health check during this year’s “voluntary counseling and testing day”.A Soi 6 employee receives a free blood and health check during this year’s “voluntary counseling and testing day”.

Unlike the department’s previous visit to the North Pattaya bar street, when officials said they received poor cooperation from bar owners, this year’s VCT Day event got a slightly warmer reception. About 150 of Soi 6’s hundreds of employees turned out.

“I’m happy Pattaya organized this,” said Mukdah Jaimaidee. “This makes it easier for me to receive health services because doing a blood check at the hospital requires more time. It also encourages us to care for our health, learn to protect ourselves and, most importantly, it’s free.”

Kanrapha Mukdasanit of the Pattaya Disease Control Center, said about 200 HIV cases were reported in the city since the testing project began in 2012, but more are suspected because many don’t get tested. Those testing positive will receive regular health evaluations and enter the free “HIV for Progress” treatment program, she said.

Itthiphol said 3 percent of more than 562,000 people who got tested nationwide in 2012 were found to be infected with HIV. The kingdom, he said, is suffering a renewed epidemic of AIDS because people are not getting checked as often as they used to.

“We can certainly say that Thailand has a growing number of HIV-infected individuals, since people are reckless and have casual attitude toward sleeping around,” Kanrapha said. She added that even married couples are being infected because men are having unprotected sex in extramarital affairs. Ironically, she said, men using the services of prostitutes usually are much more vigilant about using condoms.

Free blood screenings are available each Wednesday at the Disease Control Center office on Soi 6.

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