Meechai wants finger condoms for kids
Famed campaigner urges officials to make sex education not prevention a priority
Aids-prevention advocate Meechai Viravaidya yesterday revealed an outside-the-box idea - finger condoms for pre-school children so that they can get used to
Delivering a speech to some 80 participants in an HIV/Aids agenda public hearing at the National Economic and Social Advisory Council (Nesac), Meechai praised Thailand for reducing new cases by 90 per cent. He quoted the World Bank as saying that every Bt1 invested in Aids prevention could save Bt43 in treatment expenses, but said the Thai government showed no serious intention to tackle Aids problems, especially in educating the public.
The chairman of the Population and Community Development Association then revealed his plan to produce finger condoms for kindergarten children.
Meechai said he had received a good result after he put the mini-condoms on his one-year-old grandsons' fingers, as the kids were interested and found it fun. "We must be brave and think outside the box like this, so that attempts at Aids prevention will yield success," he said.
Meechai urged the Education Ministry and Social Development and Human Security Ministry to be open and to shift from focusing on stopping youths having sex to giving them knowledge about safe sex, possibly in the form of handbooks.
The Thai NGOs Coalition on Aids urged the draft legislation on HIV/Aids patients' protection to be scrapped, as many articles are deemed violations of patients' rights. Chairperson Supatra Nakaphew said about 500 people living with Aids were opposed to the draft. Although its intention is to take care of patients, its contents seem to deal a second blow to them, she said.
Supatra cited a requirement for patients to notify a dentist about their condition prior to treatment, or they would face a life sentence.
She added that Article 44 gave a "special privilege" for HIV-positive children not to join normal schools, and Article 45 stipulated a community for HIV-positive people to live together.
"There's no reason to build something specific for HIV/Aids people, because they can live among others in society," Supatra said.
Suspecting the draft might be submitted soon to the National Legislative Assembly, the group has presented its formal objection to the PM's Office's Secretariat, the National Human Rights Commission and the Council of State, she added.
Nesac member Supaporn Thinwattanakul said that a network of Aids activists had formulated and proposed to the council its four-point suggestion for a national agenda on Aids.
First, all state agencies should have a policy for sexual health for all people, such as clinics for sexually transmitted diseases affecting homosexuals.
Second, the government should thoroughly promote safe sex, especially by distributing male and female condoms, lubricants and oral condoms, as well as providing Braille labels for condom packets.
Third, the Aids campaign should change its attitude from "a person with Aids will definitely be dead" to "a person with Aids can live with it".
People should be sufficiently informed about how to take care of themselves and their rights.
Lastly, the government should launch measures to promote all sides' good understanding, harmonious living and Aids issues.