Poramed Winichakoon and Siripong Tongjai* Pages 1 - 11 ( 11 )
The HIV epidemic in Thailand in the 1980’s compromised the country’s socio-economic development. The epidemic first became evident in the community of men with male sexual partners (MSM), and subsequently spread to intravenous drug users (IVDU), female commercial sex workers (CSW) and their male clients, and, ultimately, to their partners and children. The HIV epidemic has devastated the country’s working age population. The extensive negative impact and social stigma associated with the disease do not only have impact on the victims of HIV but also on their descendants and relatives. An epicenter of the HIV epidemic has been in the northern provinces of Thailand. An HIV-1 subtype CRF01_AE, a complex chimeric virus composed of both A and E subtypes, is prevalent in Northern Thailand. The virus has quickly become a predominant viral strain circulating in Thailand, other neighboring Southeast Asian countries, and China as well as some other countries throughout the world. The epidemiology, evolution, and biology of CRF01_AE offer a unique model for further scientific investigations which would advance the knowledge of and curative strategies against HIV. In addition, Thailand has developed suitable national guidelines on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in order to control the epidemic. Effective antiretroviral drugs are, therefore, able to be made available to those who live with HIV. The national surveillance system has also been effective. The great efforts and resources which Thailand has dedicated to the fight against the epidemic have eventually paying off. In 2010, a plan was proposed to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission and Thailand has become the first country to be effective in this objective. Thailand has therefore become recognized as being a global leader in HIV prevention and treatment. The experience which Thailand has gained from the past and the current research and management strategies of the HIV epidemic has prepared the country for emerging strains of HIV-1 in the future.
HIV, AIDS, Thailand, CRF01_AE, Research, History
Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University