HIV is a retrovirus spread through bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, breast milk) not through casual contact
Sexual contact is the most frequent mode of transmission
Once in the body, HIV body attacks T cells (which are key component of the immune system), incorporating its DNA into the cell’s DNA, which then enables the cells to reproduce large amounts of HIV into the blood
Before coming on the Mayterm Thailand trip Lacy and I wrote a blog post on HIV/AIDS in Thailand so we felt well prepared for our visit to the HIV/AIDS Hospice. Little did we know what an emotional impact it would have on the both of us. Thailand is known as the “land of smiles” and the hospice was no exception. When we first walked into the treatment room all of the patients were so welcoming. It was incredible to see that even though these people were in pain and didn’t feel good, they could still manage to have a positive outlook on life. Everyone was so willing to share their stories with us. Continue reading HIV/AIDS Hospice →
AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is one of the worst pandemics the world has ever known. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. AIDS broke out in the early 1980’s and in just over 30 years it has become one of the leading causes of death worldwide. AIDS has resulted in the deaths of over 28 million people that we know of, resulting in a significant global impact (Bosner, 2001). As awareness rises and research progressed the outcome of people living with HIV/AIDS continues to improve around the world. Continue reading HIV/AIDS in Thailand→
Commercial sex has become a major business in Asia, it has acquired many characteristics of an industry. It is highly organized, wages for work, factory-like atmosphere, anonymity and a complete alienation at the workplace. According to reports from International Labor Organization, in spite of Asia’s economic crisis, the sex industry wont be slowing down because of the economic and social forces. This industry wont even be affected in regions with high unemployment levels.
Generally, sex work is usually better paid than most of the option available to young, often uneducated women, despite the stigma and dangers with the work. For many women, sex work is the only viable choice when experiencing poverty, unemployment, failed marriages or have family obligations. Commercial sex works tend to be less time consuming than factory or unskilled labor. For single mothers with children, the hours are more flexible than factory work. Women also get paid better than they would for unskilled labor. Average monthly earnings in the middle range were estimated at around US$600 monthly and US$100 at the low end (“Sex Industry assuming massive proportions in Southeast Asia”, 2). Commercial sex workers are not usually found in small towns or villages where they grew up. The young women leave the town or village for the city, to find their first-time job in the urban areas. The foundation for Women in Bangkok said that official policies promoting tourism and migration for employment, particular among women, encourage the growth of prostitution (“Prostitution a Major Industry in Southeast Asia”, 2).
Most of the population on earth today is uncomfortable discussing condoms, the first line of defense against HIV and unwanted pregnancies worldwide. However, the “Condom King,” Mechai Veravaidya, became such a notorious icon for condom endorsement that even today one may hear condoms being referred to as “mechais” throughout Thailand. He was instrumental in transforming Thai society’s general feelings toward condom use from discomfort to acceptance. Mechai did not halt his achievements after educating Thailand about the use of condoms; to this day he continues to better villages throughout rural Thailand by promoting economic development, youth education, philanthropy, environmental sustainability and more.
Born into a privileged Thai family with abundant opportunities ahead of him, Mechai chose to share his success instead of saving it for his own well-being. He has stated, “I didn’t want to waste my life, my education on just getting all the money I can, eating caviar and drinking red wine just to pass out the next day without making any changes in my surroundings. So, I decided that helping people was something I wanted to do.” (Johnston Interview)
He first set foot in rural Thai villages in the mid 1960’s while overseeing public projects for the Development Evaluation Division. Feeling overwhelmed by the large number of underprivileged children crowding the areas, he performed a study and found that supply production could not keep up with the ever-increasing numbers of children. (Johnston) This situation inspired him to establish his first Non Governmental Organization (NGO)—Populations and Community Development Association (PDA)— develop Thailand’s comprehensive national HIV/AIDS prevention policy and other organizations to aid the efforts of PDA.
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) has been a prevalent topic of interest in Thailand due to the thousands of people who have either HIV or AIDS. To understand why so many people in Thailand have either HIV or its more threatening stage, AIDS, we need to understand what HIV/AIDS is and how it is transmitted before we can gain a better understanding of how HIV/AIDS is spreading throughout the Thailand population.
The AIDS virus was first isolated by researchers in France in 1983 and by researches in the United States in 1984. HIV is the beginning form of AIDS, and there are two known viruses of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2; HIV-2 occurs mainly in West Africa, and HIV-1 is the strand that occurs throughout the world. HIV infects the certain white blood cells, including the T-helper cells and macrophages (“AIDS” World)which are key components in the response of the immune system. The HIV enters the CD4 cells and inserts its own DNA into the cells reproductive system which causes the cell to produce more HIV as the cell reproduces. Ultimately, the CD4 cells die, and although the body makes millions of CD4 cells every day, the HIV destroys them as fast as they are produced.
On May 19, 2011, we went to an AIDS Hospice that I believe was called Chao Khun Phra Udom Prachatorn, located in Wat Pra Baht Nampoo, Lopburi. The clinic was located at the base of some mountains. It was a beautiful area that was well kept, had a good vibe, especially since it was for end-stage AIDS victims, and was an area for teaching. Han and Peter tried to prepare us for what we were about to see, but by our surprise, parts of the tour were not nearly as sad or touching as some of us expected.
Mechai Viravaidya was born in Thailand to a Scottish mother and a Thai father both of whom were doctors. He is one of four children, with his younger brother, Sunya, the founder of the Pattaya International Hospital and one of his two sisters, Sumalee, was formerly a journalist in Bangkok. As of now, he is married to Thanphuying Putrie Viravaidya. Mechai also has two grandchildren, Mek and Mok, who both sponsor a village in Northeastern Thailand through the Village Development Partnership (VDP) (Activities Implemented by Mechai Viravaidya, 2011).