Thai HIV Clinics Target High-Risk Groups to Promote Testing

USAID partners with the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre to set up HIV services and promote safe sex and regular testing.
USAID partners with the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center to set up HIV services that target men who have sex with men, and transgender women.
Five private hospitals enhance clinic services geared toward privacy
“We all should get tested to know if we have HIV so we can get treated and not transmit it to others.”

April 2015—Sometimes it’s best to go where everyone does not know your name, but where you feel welcome just the same. It’s that way for many men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women who are among the more than half a million people living with HIV in Thailand. Roughly the same number have died since the epidemic began in the country in 1984.

Through a partnership with the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center, USAID helped set up HIV services at five private hospitals across Bangkok in June 2014 that specifically target MSM and transgender women. USAID trained medical staff on catering to their needs and sensitivities, respecting their privacy and making sure they feel accepted without discrimination or stigma.

While HIV services already existed in these private hospitals before this partnership, the services were not tailored to the two target groups. To spread the word about the new orientation toward MSM and transgender women, the research center used social media and the Adam’s Love campaign, which was created in 2010. Its website promotes free T-shirts and other discounted merchandise for anyone who gets a free HIV test at a center clinic. Other programs and celebrity events encourage testing and repeat testing. The website and Facebook page have tens of thousands of “likes” and “followers” and offer tips on HIV prevention, safe sex, where to get tested and how to access free counseling.

“I would encourage other people to join this program,” said a patient at Phyathai 1 Hospital who asked not to be identified. “It’s a very good program for all populations like MSM and heterosexual [individuals]. We all should get tested to know if we have HIV so we can get treated and not transmit it to others.”

There is no reliable HIV data from the MSM and transgender women communities in Thailand. The five HIV clinics and groups such as Adam’s Love can increase access to information on HIV testing and care for key populations. So far, hundreds of MSM and transgender women have used these services. Thirty-nine have tested positive for HIV and all of them have received medical care.

USAID's Regional Development Mission for Asia's HIV and AIDS program is part of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Activities focus on HIV prevention and treatment among MSM, transgender women and other key populations facing the greatest infection risks. Working in partnership with intended beneficiaries, the program promotes the benefits of HIV testing and treatment, and engages with community and clinical providers to ensure access to high-quality, friendly and relevant HIV services. To help achieve an AIDS-free generation, USAID works to combat stigma and discrimination that prevent those with the greatest needs from seeking services. Increasingly, through project support, these individuals are finding welcoming places to go for lifesaving help.


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