THAILAND LAUNCHES NEW NATIONAL STRATEGY TO END THE AIDS EPIDEMIC BY 2030
The Ministry of Public Health of Thailand has launched its new 2017–2030 National AIDS Strategy, which provides a road map for ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat in Thailand by 2030. Narong Pipatanasai, Deputy Prime Minister and Chair of the National AIDS Committee, led the launch at the Government Complex in Bangkok, Thailand, on 13 September.
The 13-year plan adapts the latest global commitments to Thailand, ensuring an effective, cost-efficient and high-impact HIV response. A recent UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic finds that annual new HIV infections dropped by 50% in Thailand between 2010 and 2016, the steepest decline for any country in the Asia and the Pacific region.
During the launch, 19 representatives of ministries and government offices signed a commitment to end AIDS. Deirdre Boyd, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Thailand, congratulated the government on the strategy and Apiwat Kwangkaew, the Vice-Chair of the Thai Network for People Living with HIV, stressed the need to ensure there is no stigma towards people living with HIV, so they can access key services. The Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged that government agencies cannot effectively reach key populations without the support of community groups. He said that while he had not seen important collaboration between key partners in response to other diseases, collaboration was a hallmark of the HIV response.
The strategy’s goal is to further reduce new HIV infections from 6500 to less than 1000, cut AIDS-related deaths from almost 13 000 to under 4000 and reduced HIV-related discrimination in health-care settings by 90% by 2030.
The new strategy commits to a Fast-Track phase, where an all-out effort is made to reach the global 90–90–90 targets by 2020, whereby 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing treatment and 90% of people on treatment are virally suppressed. Thailand has already achieved the first 90.
The country’s epidemic is concentrated among key populations, including men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who inject drugs and sex workers. With the new plan, the government commits to supporting combination prevention programmes for key populations and working in partnership with community-led organizations to reach people at higher risk in the locations where they live and work. The strategy gets to the subnational level, tailoring programmes to specific populations in specific locations. It also plans to increase the integration of HIV health services with hepatitis C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
“THE GOVERNMENT COMMITS TO ENSURING ENOUGH BUDGET FOR AN EFFECTIVE HIV RESPONSE. I ALSO WOULD LIKE TO EMPHASIZE THAT STRONG PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT, CIVIL SOCIETY, THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS WILL ENSURE THAT THAILAND BECOMES THE FIRST COUNTRY IN ASIA TO END THE AIDS EPIDEMIC.”
“WE WILL NOT REDUCE NEW HIV INFECTIONS IF WE DON’T HELP KEY POPULATIONS UNDERSTAND THAT THEY ARE AT RISK. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE CAN ACCESS KEY SERVICES SUCH AS HIV TESTING, CLEAN NEEDLES AND SYRINGES AND PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS.”
“WHEN THAILAND SUCCEEDS, IT INSPIRES OTHER ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS MEMBER COUNTRIES TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS. THAILAND HAS A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY RIGHT NOW TO ENSURE IT WILL REACH THE END OF THE AIDS EPIDEMIC AND ENCOURAGE OTHER COUNTRIES TO FOLLOW ITS EXAMPLE.”
“THAILAND STANDS OUT IN THE ASIA AND THE PACIFIC REGION FOR ITS ACHIEVEMENTS IN OVERCOMING AIDS. IN JUST ONE GENERATION THE COUNTRY HAS GONE FROM HAVING THE FASTEST GROWING EPIDEMIC IN ASIA TO THE SLOWEST. THIS DIDN’T JUST HAPPEN. IT WAS BECAUSE OF THE COMMITMENT, RESOURCES AND INNOVATION THAT ARE A HALLMARK OF THAILAND’S EFFORTS ON HIV.”