Bangkok: A voluntary organization working with people living with HIV is embarking on a new online campaign to help build supportive social environments and combat HIV discrimination against gay, transgender men and women in Thailand.
The HIV Foundation Thailand begins its new online campaign called “You are Not Alone” August 1 to be implemented from Bangkok and produced in Thai, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodian and English.
It is targeted toward the various language-specific Southeast Asian groups of people living and working in Bangkok who are encouraged to post images of themselves on social media with the message “You are Not Alone,” and a statement of support for people with HIV.
The campaign will culminate in a gallery launch of images for World AIDS Day 2014 on December 1, according to The HIV Foundation Thailand press release.
“You are Not Alone” is an online social campaign to build supportive social environments for all people living with HIV in Bangkok and across Southeast Asia,” said Nikorn Chimkong, Executive Director of The HIV Foundation Thailand.
“We will particularly target messages in support of women and girls in sex work, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people and migrants, refugees and mobile populations,” he added.
The HIV Foundation Thailand campaign team will travel across Bangkok each week inviting people from the five language communities to take ‘selfies’ with a campaign signage as well as encouraging them to post messages of support among their friends and family for people living with HIV.
“Ending HIV is possible,” said Scott Berry, Regional Advisor of The HIV Foundation, “but only if hatred and disregard for people affected by HIV ends first.”
He pointed out that “Sometimes it seems that discrimination by neighbors and even family members of people living with HIV is more difficult to bear than the illness itself,” he added.
The HIV Foundation Thailand is an independent, non-profit organization that serves vulnerable populations for HIV across ASEAN. It is committed to respond to people most affected by HIV.
“We serve these groups because few others will,” said Chimkong adding that the foundation delivers health and community services and builds capacity among local organizations to deliver HIV services.
A recent WHO report showed that same-sex attracted men, transgender people, prisoners, people who inject drugs and sex workers were at high risk and together account for about half of all new HIV infections worldwide.
Such vulnerable groups such as gay men have least access to healthcare services as criminalization and stigma often leave them seeking little or no help even when it is available and “will inevitably lead to more infections in those communities,” Rachel Baggaley of WHO’s HIV department had then told reporters.