_The next International AIDS Conference will be in Bangkok Thailand in 2004


At the epicenter: Bangkok 2004

The International AIDS Society, UNIAIDS and the Royal Thai Government have concluded an agreement to hold the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, from 11 to 16 July 2004.

The agreement was announced yesterday by HE Sudarat Keyuraphan (< Thai minister of public health) and Vallop Thaineua (director-general of the ministry of public health >), representing the Royal Thai Government, and Dr Peter Piot (UNAIDS), and Dr Stefano Vella and Dr Joep Lange (IAS).

This will be the second time an international AIDS conference has been held in Asia (after Yokohama in 1994), but 2004 will be the first conference in an Asian country with a major HIV/AIDS epidemic. Thai officials describe Thailand as being "at the epicenter of the epidemic."

"Thailand is ready to be the next host," said Minister Keyuraphan. "We have fought the epidemic openly since the beginning."

The announcement will please the many people who feel that international AIDS conferences should now always be held in countries with major HIV/AIDS epidemics, rather than in wealthy European or north American countries.

The minister gave assurances that "Thailand has no laws that discriminate, differentiate or categorise people living with HIV/AIDS," and said that the conference would "provide an opportunity for networking for all, including people living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by HIV/AIDS.

"I pledge to make the next International AIDS Conference more accessible to all peoples of the world, rich and poor, positive and negative," she said.

Thailand has had significant successes in combating the AIDS epidemic. The annual number of new HIV infections has fallen from 143,000 in 1991 to 25,000 last year.

written by Key Correspondents Health & Development Networks


It should be noted:

There are 700,000 Thai People with HIV/AIDS.
Only 5,000 get ARV Treatment presently.
100,000 to 250,000 would benefit from ARV Treatment NOW.
Currently, only 5% of Public Health Spending is for HIV/AIDS.

It should also be noted:

Tuesday, 9 April, 2002
Burmese migrants face HIV test by Thailand Government
by Larry Jagan
BBC's Burma analyst in Rangoon

Burma and Thailand have agreed on a plan to repatriate more than 500,000 Burmese illegal immigrants currently resident in Thailand.As part of the deal, Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai told the BBC, the Burmese workers will be screened for HIV. Those testing positive will be separated from the other workers being repatriated.

The agreement was reached in a bilateral meeting between the two countries in Rangoon, when both countries were attending a tripartite summit with India.

This is part of the Thai Government's efforts under Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to improve relations with Burma.Thailand has been anxious to get Rangoon to agree to take back more than 500,000 illegal Burmese believed to be living in Thailand.To achieve this, the Thai Government has bent over backwards to accommodate Rangoon.

Engagement policy

Now the policy of renewed engagement is producing results, Mr Surakiart said.
The two countries have now ironed out most of the obstacles which had prevented the repatriation scheme from starting.

The Burmese Government asked Thailand to screen all returning refugees for HIV/AIDS and Thailand agreed.

This is likely to anger many human rights groups, who have already accused the Thai Government of violating the workers' human rights by insisting on a medical examination before they are registered or re-registered.

Workers separated

Mr Surakiart said those workers who were diagnosed as HIV positive would be separated from the other illegal immigrants and would be treated as part of a special repatriation scheme.

The modalities of the illegal workers' return are still being worked out and should be completed when the joint task force meets again in the next few weeks. Mr Surakiart confidently predicted the return of the refugees later this month. However, other Thai Government officials admit this is an optimistic estimate and that even if the repatriation scheme starts this month, it will take months rather than weeks before any appreciable number of workers return to Burma.

see also link to:  2004 Bangkok AIDS Conference


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