UNAIDS applauds longstanding leadership of HRH Princess Soamsawali in Thailand’s HIV response

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UNAIDS applauds longstanding leadership of HRH Princess Soamsawali in Thailand’s HIV response

15 February 2011

In an official visit to the Suan Kalub Palace in Bangkok, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé met with HRH Princess Soamsawali of Thailand.

In an official visit to the Suan Kalub Palace in Bangkok on Monday, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé commended HRH Princess Soamsawali of Thailand for her “tireless dedication, commitment and leadership” in the country’s HIV response.

“Through deeds, words and provision of resources where they are most needed, Your Royal Highness has shown true vision and commitment on HIV,” said Mr Sidibé, who is currently in Thailand on a three-day country mission. “I look forward to our ongoing collaboration to save and improve lives,” he added.

Presenting the Princess with a commemorative plaque for her ongoing efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) and HIV-related stigma and discrimination, Mr Sidibé noted Princess Soamsawali’s longstanding involvement in the HIV response, which dates back some 25 years.

Through her patronage of the Thai Red Cross, HRH Princess Soamsawali helped bring PMTCT services to Thailand in 1996, several years before a PMTCT programme was introduced as part of Thailand’s national response to the HIV epidemic. Within the programme, triple antiretroviral therapy is made available for all pregnant women living with HIV, independent of their CD4 count.

I would like to see Bangkok free of HIV. This means greater action is needed to break down barriers to ensure support is given to those who need it most

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

During their meeting, UNAIDS Executive Director and HRH Princess Soamsawali emphasized the importance of ensuring access to HIV programmes for marginalized populations and those at higher risk of  HIV exposure—particularly men who have sex with men and illegal migrants.

While noting progress in Thailand’s HIV response, the Executive Director highlighted that more needs to be done. An estimated 530 000 people in Thailand are living with HIV and prevalence of the virus among people aged 15-49 is 1.3%.

“I would like to see Bangkok free of HIV,” said Mr Sidibé. “This means greater action is needed to break down barriers to ensure support is given to those who need it most,” he said. HIV programmes supported by HRH Princess Soamsawali provide antiretroviral treatment to marginalized populations, and the Princess underlined that her support in this area would continue.

Mr Sidibé’s official visit to Thailand, which ends on 17 February, includes a number of meetings with high-level government officials and representatives from civil society organizations.