- Since the emergence of HIV and AIDS 25 years ago it is estimated that 39 million people have been infected. Within Thailand alone it is thought that more than one million people have been infected in the last 23 years. New infections are increasing every year especially amongst the youth. The average age of new infection is dropping. According to UNAIDS out of a population of 64,233,000 people approximately 580,000 adults aged between 15 and 49 years are infected and a further 16,000 children under the age of 14 years. (UNAIDS 2006 Report on the Global epidemic: WHO Fact Sheet August Global TB report 2006).The CCT AIDS Ministry is a Christian Protestant organization which has played a part in the prevention and ‘solution’ of the problem of AIDS in Thai society since 1991. CAM ministers primarily in Northern Thailand, but the staff has opportunity to network throughout Thailand and abroad. CAM was founded in 1991 by a group of Christian leaders who expressed deep concern about the growing AIDS epidemic in Thailand. CAM was formally created as an ongoing part of the Church of Christ in Thailand in 1993 It started with a campaign to educate and inform church leaders to help them engage effectively with AIDS, both within the church and in society generally.
- The project was able to use its experience of caring for PLWHA, as well as those affected by AIDS, in homes and communities, in order to train volunteers in villages and churches to continue this work. From their experience the staff of the AIDS ministry realized that even though Thailand has made good progress in the care of PLWHA there are still groups who have not received the care they should. Some are not willing to be open about their HIV status and so have not received the services and help from hospitals that they are entitled to. These people need a special place where they can go to receive treatment. For the last 2 years the AIDS ministry has been able to help approximately 200 people in this group.
As well as this group there are also people who are not considered Thai citizens, or migrant workers who move to the cities looking for daily labour. Many are unable to communicate in Thai, they do not have Thai identity cards and are taken advantage of and paid very little by their employers. When these people become sick they are not able to access help or treatment. When they face a crisis in their lives they have no rights to help or care. They are often uninformed about HIV/AIDS and do not know how to live with someone with HIV. Often they do not know how to care for family members who are infected, and do not have the resources to do so – and so they end up rejecting them. They cannot go home to their villages because they are afraid of rejection there. The AIDS ministry has been able to help and give advice to over 100 people in this group and it is increasing each year. From evaluation of its work the AIDS ministry has seen that informing and caring for this group of migrants is very important. It is interesting to note that the recipients of care from the AIDS ministry from within this group are predominantly married women, more so than men.
CAM has a holistic ministry of helping HIV positive people, their affected families and the wider community. The staff reach out in friendship, moral support and through education about HIV/AIDS, general health care and community life.
Work with AIDS in Thailand up until now has involved the government, private agencies, NGOs, community organizations, those infected and their families. It has included prevention programmes, care and treatment and the use of anti retroviral drugs (ARV) to lessen the impact of the virus. People infected have been helped to access their rights to receive this treatment. However some people who do receive treatment still suffer from the problems associated with ARV treatment leading to a need to adjust the drug regimes and often new combinations of drugs become increasingly expensive. This is a major problem for developing countries that rely on an out of country source of ARV medications.