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Thailand is known as a centre for various aspects of development in Asia. The country's experience in addressing HIV/AIDS is often referred to by other countries in developing their own response. There is an increasing demand on Thailand to share its experiences with other countries in Asia and Africa through study tours and similar South-to-South co-operation initiatives. With a democratic political system and monarchical support, it has reached a considerable level of development, as is evident in some key indicators (2003) such as life expectancy (69 years in 2001), literacy rate (96%) and infant mortality rate (28/1000 live births).

Although Thailand has shown HIV prevention successes through strong political commitment and the promotion of a multisectoral approach, the country still faces the socio-economic and epidemiological impact of the epidemic. One in 60 people are infected with HIV and AIDS has become a leading cause of death. In addition, a growing number of PLWHA requires effective treatment. The Government is aiming to address this need by making 50,000 antiretroviral treatments available by the end of 2004.

Burden adult prevalence (age group 15-49) is 1.8% (2002).

Unless preventive efforts are sustained, the epidemic could quickly grow, especially within new and existing vulnerable groups such as spouses of sex workers clients, young people, mobile populations and drug users. Challenges for the country include reviving intensive HIV prevention efforts, providing care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS and maintaining political commitment at the highest level and in every government ministry.

National Strategic Framework

The national strategic framework has been completed for 2002-2006. Priority action areas include: strengthening the potential of individuals, family, communities and institutions in prevention; and enhancing health and social services, research, international co-operation and management systems. A multisectoral approach is commonly used in all structures and mechanisms. Membership of the national and provincial AIDS committees has already been expanded to all sectors. These committees oversee HIV/AIDS policy and programme implementation. The Prime Minister is officially the Chair of the National AIDS Committee and the country will host the 2004 International AIDS Conference. In addition, the overall response to HIV/AIDS has a strong involvement of NGOs and people living with HIV/AIDS.

The implementation plan has been completed and costed. The plan will include nationwide coverage and the monitoring and evaluation components are in planning. The Government of Thailand has requested technical support from the UN system to strengthen the capacity of the AIDS programme. For 2002, the AIDS budget was US$35 million (out of the overall health budget of US$2 billion). AIDS budget remains at the agreed fiscal year level with budget for care and treatment potentially being mainstreamed into the National Universal Health Coverage scheme.

Although the fiscal budget reflects strong government commitment and Thailand has received funding from the Global Fund, there is still a need for more budgetary allocation. Especially, as Thailand has appealed for increased national and international co-operation in the effort to address HIV/AIDS under the 9th National AIDS Plan (2002-06).

Issues including non-discrimination, access to care, multisectoral approach and international co-operation are reflected in the 2002-2006 National AIDS Plan but there still remains a need to address non-discrimination and rights issues, targeting a few specific groups such as injecting drug users.