UNDP Thailand holds training to draft national guidelines for HIV Prevention

01 May 2012

image UNDP Thailand/Mark S. Cogan

BANGKOK -  Thailand just got one step closer to better HIV prevention among two key affected groups.

The United Nations Development Programme in Thailand hosted a week-long training at the Montien Hotel in Bangkok on 23-27 April for government and national partners in an effort to draft national guidelines for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender (TG) people.

These two at-risk groups were targeted by the Royal Thai Government as critical to reversing a trend of new infections. In urban areas of Thailand, MSM and TG are said to be twenty times more likely to be living with HIV than the general Thai population. HIV prevalence among MSM is a crisis level, with 16.5% reported nationwide and as high as 31% in Bangkok.

In concert with a national effort to reduce the rate of new HIV infections by two-thirds over the next five years, the Bureau of AIDS, TB, STI, the Ministry of Public Health, and UNDP Thailand launched a project to establish national guidelines for HIV prevention among MSM and TG in Thailand. The April training helped an assembled group of experts develop a national standard of practice.

Co-organized with AVAHAN Partners, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reduced the spread of HIV in India, the knowledge exchange helped key partners identified essential components of national guidelines, added details, reviewed existing practices, and made recommendations on how HIV prevention should be standardized.

“The training allows us to review what’s become ‘business as usual’ in essential areas of work, from outreach, condoms, and voluntary counseling and testing. How we standardize HIV prevention nationwide is a challenge,” said Nery Ronatay, UNV HIV/AIDS Officer with UNDP Thailand.

See more photos from the HIV Prevention workshop on Facebook.

Getting the feedback of the MSM and TG communities, national and local government agencies are critical to making sure that these new national standards are effective in reaching the right people at the right time.

“Many organizations have their own guidelines on how to work on HIV at the local level, but not at the national level,” said Dr. Sumet Ongwandee, Director of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Sexual Transmitted Diseases.

“We need these communities in order to gather information. There are so many organizations working on HIV/AIDS in Thailand, but we’ve never really come together like this.”

Thailand reports just over 10,000 new HIV/AIDS cases every year. There are an estimated 480,000 Thais living with HIV/AIDS as of 2011.