Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (email@example.com)
Wed, 21 Oct 1998 14:28:28 -0700 (PDT)
BBC: World: Asia-Pacific
Thailand's Aids crisis: Worst
'yet to come'
Thai prostitutes continue to be the main victims
Medical researchers in Thailand have warned that the spread
of Aids in the country is far worse than originally thought
with up to 286,000 deaths from the disease by the end of the
The situation is worse in the poorest northern region of the
country where 80% of deaths amongst females aged 25 to 29
are attributable to Aids.
A joint study, by the European Union and the Institute of
Population Studies in Bangkok, says the number of Thais
who have died of Aids is nine times higher than has been
"Preliminary calculations show that the vast majority of
Aids-related mortality in Thailand is still to come," it said.
The study says the biggest
increase in infection is among
women in their early-twenties in
the northern province of Chang
Rai, from where many of
Thailand's prostitutes are
There deaths related to Aids
rose from 0.83 per 1,000 females
in 1990 to 8.46% in 1996.
Prostitutes who fall ill whilst
working in cities such as
Bangkok are often sent back to
the their home villages where understanding of Aids is
The growing use of intravenous drugs in the north of the
country has also contributed to rising infection rates.
However, nationwide the study said there was evidence to
show the number of new infections had sharply declined
between 1993 and 1996.
The report says nationwide nearly a quarter-of-a-million have
died of the disease since 1985, but just 24,667 deaths were
reported by the Public Health Ministry.
The researchers blame the discrepancy in Aids statistics on
the stigma attached to the disease, which leads to
under-reporting by health workers and victims' families.
"Under-reporting is a worldwide phenomenon and is related
to the resources allocated to the health system," said Alessio
Panza, head of the EU's Aids programme in Bangkok.
"Even countries with a lot of resources have under-reporting.
The problem is that many medical staff don't consider
collecting the data a useful activity, so they either don't do it
or invent the figures."
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