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MSMs finally address

As I have pointed out before, the spread of the pandemic in developing countries often fails to focus any specific policy on MSMs, quite possibly to the great detriment of our ability to fight the spread of the disease. Thailand, however, just figured it out and got on the boat:

Thailand this month will launch its first HIV/AIDS prevention campaign aimed at men who have sex with men, which will be run by Family Health International, local nongovernmental organizations and government agencies, including the country’s Ministry of Public Health, Thailand’s The Nation/Asia News Network reports. During the five-month campaign, called Sex Alert, a public relations firm will disseminate information on safer sex to MSM through magazine and radio advertisements, cell phone text messages, the Internet and posters, Somchai Srip-lienchan, FHI’s national director for Thailand, said. The campaign will direct MSM to call centers and Web sites providing information about HIV and safer sex. Flyers, postcards and condoms with lubricant also will be distributed. Frits van Griensven — associate director for science at HIV/AIDS Collaboration, a partnership between CDC and the health ministry — said according to surveys conducted last year, HIV prevalence among MSM in Bangkok increased from 17% in 2003 to 28% in 2005, and among MSM under age 21, HIV prevalence tripled within the same time frame. USAID Regional Mission Director Tim Beans said HIV detection and prevention efforts among MSM have been hampered in part because of stigma and because the group has been excluded from the national HIV prevention strategy. According to Somchai, the lack of prevention programs and limited access to condoms and lubricant has spurred rising HIV-prevalence rates among MSM (Khwankhom/Vedelago, The Nation/Asia News Network, 2/2).

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