Thailand's health ministry is thinking about a "family condom" campaign to
protect married women from contracting HIV/AIDS from their philandering
husbands, media reports said Thursday.
Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla recently mooted the "family
condom" solution at a seminar at which it was revealed that 40 per cent
of the 18,000 new HIV/AIDS cases detected in Thailand each year were
housewives who had contracted the virus from their husbands.
Virus contracted from husbands
"Right now most of the new infected people in Thailand are women and
60 per cent of the women get the virus from their husbands," Mongkol
told the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) Wednesday
night, where he reiterated his call for a "family condom" launch.
But Mongkol, who is working with Thailand's famed "Mr Condom", Mechai
Viravaidya, on the project, admitted that distributing free condoms to
families would be a hard sell for anti-HIV/AIDS campaigners.
"We need to promote the family condom but Dr Mechai said this one
was not accepted in Thailand because gender discrimination is still
very severe and wives cannot request their husbands to use a condom,"
Thailand, which has an estimated 600,000 people living with HIV/AIDS
and has lost 1 million victims to the deadly virus since it was first
detected in the kingdom in the mid-1980s, has won international praise
for its past anti-HIV/AIDS campaigns.
Poor preventative measures
But past gains have been overshadowed by recent government neglect
of preventative measures, such as education and passing out free
condoms to sex workers and other high-risk groups, which has arguably
led to increased infections among women and Thai teenagers, many of
whom are engaging in unprotected sex.
Mongkol has also won praise from international health organizations
for his decision earlier this year to issue compulsory licensing for
two anti-viral HIV/AIDS drugs to improve access for the thousands of
Thais living with the virus who cannot afford the drugs.
But Mechai, whose past efforts have concentrated more on prevention
than cures for the deadly virus, said the compulsory licensing was a
symptom of the government's failure to combat the pandemic.
"Compulsory licensing is not a solution to AIDS. It actually
reflects the country's failure to promote a prevention campaign,"
Mechai told a recent gathering of health workers. – (Sapa)
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