Thailand: Victim of own AIDS success
As countries prepare to mark World AIDS Day, young Thais are flirting with danger in a nation seen as a rare bright spot in the battle against the disease.india Updated: Dec 13, 2003 12:57 IST
Nat used to be terrified of AIDS. Convinced she was sick, she took tests and flooded her doctor with calls. Five years later, she laughs off her panic.
"It seems the people who have it are getting fewer and the people I hang out with are not the kind who would get it," the 27-year-old clothing designer says, swirling the drink in her hand at a nightclub. "Sometimes you just have to live your life."
As countries prepare to mark World AIDS Day, young Thais are flirting with danger in a nation seen as a rare bright spot in the battle against the disease.
At the same time, the government is cutting spending on prevention programmes, only a decade after Thailand successfully checked a crisis that had threatened to run rampant.
"Human nature dictates that if we were successful, we would be lulled into a sense of complacency. Unfortunately HIV/AIDS is something different," former prime minister and anti-AIDS activist Anand Panyarachun told Reuters.
"If we are complacent, I can envisage a recurrence of the epidemic in the foreseeable future. If we come to that situation we have only ourselves to blame."
Experts say the spectre of AIDS -- which has killed around 400,000 Thais and robbed the economy of up to $9 billion -- is a faint memory for many young people.