May 042012
HIV in Thailand

Thailand is home to more than 5 million migrants from Cambodia, Lao and Myanmar, who play a fundamental role in the country’s economic development.

The United Nations program on HIV/AIDS in its latest study has shown that in the six provinces most affected by HIV in Thailand, Cambodian migrants are the most vulnerable; the total number of HIV cases has spread to 2.5% of its population.

Many of them have difficulty to access key treatments such as antiretroviral therapy (ART).

The Ministry of Health has adopted a new national strategy for 2012-2016 to make certain that migrants and any person living with HIV in Thailand, regardless of their nationality, have access to HIV treatments.

To Reduce HIV Vulnerability Associated with Population Movement, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Yunnan Province of China have signed a Joint Action. In addition Thai and Cambodian governments have agreed to allow Cambodian migrants to return to their home country to obtain a three month supply of antiretroviral therapy when needed.

NGO’s and local associations argue that many migrants do not have access to antiretroviral as the treatment costs between 45 US dollars to 90 US dollars, a fortune for some of them.

They add that more information is needed as Migrants find themselves blocked by some obstacles such as the language. Furthermore, the temporary nature of migration makes them more vulnerable to HIV as treatment needs a constant follow up.

Thailand is becoming a pioneer in giving the same access to HIV treatment and services for migrants as its own citizens. NGO’s say that the challenges of cross border navigation make it difficult to maintain a treatment follow up and will need a tighter collaboration with the government to succeed.

Sonia Labboun