“Worrying’ Aids figures in Phuket

PHUKET: Phuket has the second-highest incidence of Aids of Thailand’s southern provinces, and the fifth-highest rate in the country, according to the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO).

The number of cases is still rising, Dr Wanchai Sattayawuthipong, the head of the PPHO, said. “The number of Aids cases in Phuket has risen in each of the past three years. In Phuket, only cancer kills more people than Aids,” he said.

Dr Wanchai was speaking yesterday at a meeting arranged by the PPHO at the Phuket Provincial Hall, and chaired by Vice-Governor Vinai Buapradit.

Phuket currently has 3,313 confirmed Aids patients, of whom 2,310 are male and 1,003 female, Dr Wanchai said. A total of 869 are recorded as having died of Aids since the disease was first detected in Phuket.

“The worrying thing is that the age at which people become infected is lower than it was in the past,” said Dr Wanchai. “Most people who die are in the 25-to-44 age group.”

He continued, “Moreover, my research indicates that the number of mothers infected with HIV is rising – it’s currently increasing 1.67% a year, against a Ministry of Public Health target [for this year] of 1.2%.”

Dr Wanchai said he was “worried” about the Aids situation in Phuket, and that the number of teenagers infected with HIV was a particular cause for concern.

Public agencies should work together to slow the spread of HIV/Aids, he said. One example of this would be for the government to zone entertainment venues, as this would make it easier for health officials and educators to reach the sex workers who operate from businesses such as bars and karaoke parlors.

The international organization UNAids warned recently that the spread of HIV/Aids is still accelerating worldwide, with East Asia being among the areas recording the fastest growth, particularly among women.

The BBC reported recently that an estimated 39.4 million people around the world are living with HIV, up from an estimated 36.6 million in 2002, an increase of 7.7% in two years.

Phuket News

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