Opening Remarks of UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Luc Stevens

18 Dec 2012

Royal Thai Police Training on HIV-related Stigma & Discrimination Prevention and AIDS Right Protection, Naresuan Camp, Cha-am

Police Colonel Prasert Vinyaporn, Khun Supatra Nakapew, Police Trainers and Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be with you today as we begin the next step in a partnership that began in September between Royal Thai Police Department, the Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of Public Health and UNDP.

Today is a special day. You are the first group of female officers to go through a unique training. Today, you will be equipped with the knowledge, not only to protect yourselves, but to be a resource for women and men living with HIV.

Ladies, you are here to help the United Nations stop a terrible injustice. Since the case of HIV/AIDS was first discovered in Thailand in 1984, some people are still afraid of it, some still ridicule it, and some still distance themselves from those they believe have it. Stigma and discrimination are wrong and we are here together to fight it. Stigma and discrimination reduce the quality of life of those infected and affected by it. And it must stop.

A 2009 study showed that stigma and discrimination was many times encountered by people living with HIV in the workplace, at hospitals and clinics, and at school. Some even encountered discrimination among police personnel on the ground.

HIV/AIDS is the sixth-leading killer worldwide. More than 500,000 people are living with HIV in Thailand—including 14,000 children. Infection rates are rising among young people. Over the next five years, some 43,000 more infections are expected, many from at-risk populations such as men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and transgendered people.

Today you’ll learn who is the most vulnerable and why. In urban areas of Thailand, men who have sex with men and transgendered persons are 20 times more likely to be living with HIV. HIV cases among men who have sex with men is at a crisis level.

With your help, we're going to help others to understand the root causes of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and how to prevent it in the line of duty. We will train 10,000 junior police students per year on basic HIV prevention, to better understand what it means to live with stigma and discrimination, and how this stigma can be addressed by police officers on the ground.

Ladies, you are the very first groups of women police officers who will be equipped with knowledge and understanding about this pandemic necessary to protect yourselves and other women from HIV infection. You will be empowered to respond effectively to stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and key at-risk populations.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from my remarks today, it’s that the United Nations takes HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination seriously, and so do our partners. One case of discrimination is too many. One person not getting the care they need is too many. Our role is to bring an end to this injustice. Your participation today will help make that a reality.

I’d like to thank the Royal Thai Police, especially Bureau of Border Patrol Police and the Police Education Bureau who have supported the organization of this training. This partnership is a major contribution on the part of the Royal Thai Police and they should be commended. The United Nations is honored that they’re going to ensure that their officers are a helping hand to those working and living with HIV.

I thank you.