BANGKOK: — As many as 10,000 junior Thai police officers per year will soon receive education on HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination due to a new partnership signed today, by the Royal Thai Police, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Foundation for AIDS Rights and the Department of Rights Protection of Ministry of Justice.
“The Royal Thai Police are committed to helping Thailand reduce and eliminate HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination. This training will help our officers become a resource and a helping hand for people living with HIV/AIDS and key affected people,” said Police Lieutenant General Chanin Preechaharn, of the Royal Thai Police.
Stigma and discrimination remain a concern in Thailand and present barriers to access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatments among key at-risk populations. The government has identified men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgendered persons (TG) as critical target populations to reversing a trend of new HIV infections.
In Thailand, MSM and TG are 20 times more likely to be living with HIV. Of those living with HIV in Thailand, over 16 percent come from the MSM community. For Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, it is as high as 31 percent.
The stigma and discrimination curriculum will be used to educate junior police officers who has passed examination and who will be appointed as non-commissioned police officers throughout the country. The training contains more than 22 hours of lessons, spread out over the course of five days.
A training of 40 trainers began right after the signing ceremony, with a pilot exercise to be held soon to further refine the new curriculum.
“The officers being trained here today will eventually train as many as 10,000 junior police students per year on basic HIV prevention, the principle of AIDS rights, to better understand what it means to live with stigma and discrimination when you’re living with HIV, and how this stigma can be addressed by police officers on the ground,” said Luc Stevens, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand.
Thailand’s national AIDS strategy, ‘Getting to Zero’ is in line with the UNAIDS vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. The partnership is a product of the long-time development of a joint UN programme on stigma and discrimination under the Joint Team on AIDS in Thailand led by UNDP and UNAIDS.
HIV/AIDS is the third-leading cause of death in the world. More than 500,000 people are living with HIV in Thailand—including 14,000 children. Every year, 10,000 people are infected and over the next five years some 43,000 more are expected, many from at-risk populations such as MSM and TG.
Joining the Royal Thai Police in signing the partnership today were Luc Stevens, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative; Supatra Nacapiew, Director of the Foundation for AIDS Rights; and Director-General Pitthaya Jinawat, Department of Rights and Liberty Protection, Ministry of Justice.