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MSF in Thailand, 2002
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Treating AIDS in many settings
Coping with the AIDS epidemic is a main focus of MSF's work in Thailand. Additional programs concentrate on tuberculosis (TB) and primary care for refugees and displaced people along the country's border with Myanmar.
For several years, MSF and local partners have campaigned to decrease the price of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that could prolong the life of some of the country's 670,000-plus people infected with HIV/AIDS. The prices have dropped and, as of July 2002, MSF is treating 470 AIDS patients – including 50 children – with ARV drugs in home and hospital settings at several locations in Thailand.
In Bangkok, home-based and community care are cornerstones of MSF's approach to bringing AIDS care and treatment to people neglected by Thailand's social system. In Rayong, a program including ARV treatment responds specifically to the needs of infected children. MSF has evaluated the educational and psychological needs of children living with HIV/AIDS and is working to develop childfriendly tools to help them take their medicines correctly. MSF also provides AIDS care and ARV treatment in Surin province and in the district hospitals of Bang Kruai, Ban Laem and Kuchinarai. Training local medical staff and treating AIDS-related opportunistic infections are an integral part of the programs.
In December 2001, MSF began to diagnose and treat HIV/AIDS and related infections in Maela refugee camp near Mae Sot, home to 37,000 mainly Karen refugees from Myanmar. MSF provides ARV treatment to a handful of patients there, as well as treatment to prevent mother-tochild transmission of HIV (MTCT). MSF also provides counseling in the MTCT context in Surin.
A nationwide campaign, "AIDS Can Be Treated", launched by MSF and local NGOs in late 2000, is helping dispel misconceptions many health workers have about HIV/AIDS. With government plans to scale up ARV treatment by the end of 2002, campaign staff are now training people living with HIV/AIDS to be counselors in care centers run by the health authorities. People in precarious economic and social situations are also affected by TB. In Maela camp, MSF is treating some 120 refugees for TB, including several suffering from multi-drug resistant TB. Illegal migrant workers in the area are also treated.
MSF also provides basic health care at two clinics in Maela camp and Tham Hin camp near Ratchaburi, home to 8,500 Karen refugees. In Sangklaburi, an MSF clinic primarily treats displaced Mon people.
MSF has been working in Thailand since 1983.