BANGKOK, 5 June 2015 – The Public Health Ministry and several U.S. agencies in Thailand have launched a joint research project with HIV – positive men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender (TG) after efforts to reduce the number of new infected patients were not so successful.
The cooperation began in 2014 involving such agencies as USAID and U.S. CDC with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The research will be conducted in seven Thai provinces in risk of AIDS transmission among the two target groups.
The research project is aimed at reducing the spreading of the disease among MSM and TG members by encouraging them to attend HIV testing and receive antiretroviral therapy immediately in line with the Thai government’s policy.
As a result of the cooperation, Thailand is the first country in Asia which implements the policy of giving free antiretroviral therapy to HIV-positive patients immediately after positive result. The therapy can be reachable at state medical centers in all communities.
The US charge d’affairs in Bangkok, Mr. Patrick Murphy said that the U.S. government was pleased to work with the Thai Public Health Ministry in this regard as the project benefits the society as a whole.
“HIV test and antiretroviral therapy can save patient’s life and prevent new infection. We can reduce HIV transmission if more people attend the test and instantly receive the therapy,” said Mr. Patrick Murphy.
“The sooner they have HIV test, the earlier they can be healed and live normal life,” he continued, stressing that AIDS is like other chronic diseases which patients can have healthy life by taking medicine daily.
HIV experts believed that in 2015, around 43 per cent of new infected patients were members of MSM and TG. Without effective prevention, the figure is likely to rise. Only 31 per cent of them attended HIV test and even fewer than half of the tested patients received antiretroviral therapy.