HIV in Bangkok: Prioritizing preventive education

According to the 2018 UNAIDS data for Thailand, 9% of men who have sex with men (MSM) are living with HIV, but in Bangkok specifically, HIV prevalence rate within the MSM population is estimated at 28.6%. Of the MSM population in Bangkok, HIV incidence is also much higher in younger men aged 18 to 21, compared to men over 30, presenting a difference of 5.1% of incidence – surely more needs to be done to educate the youths on HIV. 

As of 2019, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has set up nine locations for Thai citizens to receive up to two HIV tests, and HIV prevention methods for free. Even so, adoption rates of HIV prevention methods are still worryingly low, with only 13% of the MSM community in Bangkok at substantial risk for HIV infection receiving aid from these centers.

With the alarming incidence rate among youths, and low adoption of HIV prevention methods, the Love Foundation is focusing efforts on HIV prevention methods education, viewing it as the most exigent priority within the HIV sphere in Bangkok. 

In 2019, we thus launched the Speak OUT campaign, targeting key populations through social media, hoping to educate and encourage the learning and sharing of vital information. We prepared and posted a variety of content on our social media platforms, including video essays, infographics, and motion graphics to emphasize on HIV education. To also help them recognize the importance and difference between HIV prevention and treatment, we specially curated content, and invited research physicians, celebrities, treatment users, and HIV positive individuals alike to discuss their experiences. We hope that with our efforts, we are able to contribute towards increasing HIV prevention method awareness and adoption rates in Bangkok, and in Thailand.

Love Foundation is locally registered in the Northern Thailand city, Chiang Mai, with a satellite operation in Bangkok. Formed in 2016 by a longtime MSM activist, the Foundation aims to improve access to testing and treatment for MSM in Thailand through a combination of community mobilization, direct service provision, and advocacy to both government and private organizations. We currently have six staff members with expertise in HIV prevention education, community mobilization, and social media. Love Foundation campaigns for sexual health awareness, HIV prevention, and social mobilization within the MSM community. Our organization makes a difference through social media outreach, and we aspire to radically reduce new HIV infections in Thailand by providing accurate information, advice and counseling on HIV/AIDS, and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) to as many people as possible.

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Daniil Golubev