11 July 2024

Senior Advisor on Research and Policy at the HIV Research and Innovation Institute, Professor Dr. Praphan Phanuphak, has expressed optimism about Thailand’s ability to end AIDS.

Ending AIDS as a public health threat as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal agenda was achievable if policymakers fully invested in community-led responses, and sectors worked together to support and revise policies and regulations that currently impede the work of community organizations, said Praphan, the first doctor to diagnose an AIDS patient in Thailand.

“We just need a strong, genuine political commitment from our government that we can end AIDS within the lifetime within a 4-year period of this government by strong advocating on the HIV testing.”

The Thai PM should lead Thailand by advocating for HIV testing once in a lifetime, the doctor said.

Professor Dr. Praphan Phanuphak, Senior Advisor on Research and Policy at the HIV Research and Innovation Institute

He spoke at a forum held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) to commemorate the 2023 World AIDS Day, themed ‘Let Communities Lead”.

Speaking at the same forum, Patchara Benjarattanaporn, director of UNAIDS Thailand, emphasized the vital role of community involvement in planning, service provision, and advocacy.

Understanding the needs of key and vulnerable groups within the community is pivotal.

“It‘s very clear that if we are able to support the communities to do more and exercise the capacity at the maximum level, Thailand can end AIDS, and communities will be the key infrastructure and key strategy to support Thailand to do that,” she said.

Yupadee Sirisinsuk, deputy secretary-general of the National Health Security Office, stressed the importance of community-led health services in Thailand’s AIDS-ending strategy.

In 2023, the NHSO allocated Bt575.7 million for HIV prevention, with Bt182.25 million earmarked for community organizations and NGOs, she said.

Evidence from the epic project showed that key population-led health services led to earlier HIV detection compared to the national average.

Thailand is making strides towards the 95-95-95 Global AIDS Strategy targets, with 90% of individuals aware of their HIV status by the end of 2022. Ninety percent of those diagnosed were on treatment, and 97% of the people on treatment achieved a suppressed viral load— a crucial milestone in curbing transmission.

Internationally recognized since 1996, Thailand’s ‘peer-to-peer’ model has evolved into the ‘Comprehensive Care Center’ (CCC) network, comprising 219 networks nationwide.

This groundbreaking framework empowers people living with HIV (PLHIV) to support each other across various levels.

Collaborative efforts between MOPH, Ratchasuda College, Mahidol University, and the Institute for HIV Research and Innovation have produced training curriculums for 585 Community Health Workers.

Patchara Benjarattanaporn, Director of UNAIDS Thailand

World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1, is a global initiative to raise awareness, show support for those living with HIV, and commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.

It provides an opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV, reduce stigma, and promote education and understanding of the virus. This year’s theme, “Let Communities Lead,” aligns with Thailand’s innovative and effective community-driven approach in the battle against HIV/AIDS.