Opinion Poll on HIV/AIDS Thailand
19 Dec 2012
Though the majority of Thais are knowledgeable about Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), fear and denial about the epidemic still prevail. While most people are aware of how the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is transmitted,Thai youth do not think they themselves are at risk of catching it, and consequently do little to protect themselves. Well over half of Thai people surveyed believe that the Government is not doing enough to deal with AIDS. They want AIDS education in primary schools and condom vending machines in universities.
These and other surprisingly candid viewpoints were revealed in a nationwide Opinion Poll on HIV/AIDS, conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Research Institute of Bangkok University in Thailand.
The poll was carried out among 7,500 Thais – male and female of all ages – in both rural and urban areas across the country. A stunning 95 percent of those polled say that AIDS remains a problem in Thailand. The opinion poll reveals that most Thais have a liberal, even progressive attitude towards AIDS education and condom promotion targeted at young people. More than 68 percent feel that primary school students should be educated about AIDS. They want children at an early age to understand the dangers of HIV and to know how to protect themselves before they become sexually active.
Over 53 percent of those surveyed agree that condom vending machines should be available in universities or colleges, as opposed to 34 percent who do not want condom vending machines, and 13 percent who do not know. Education officials and politicians – who often balk at the idea of promoting condoms in schools – seem to be out of touch with public opinion. The poll reveals that people are dissatisfied with government performance in responding to the epidemic. Some 61 percent think that the Government is not doing enough to deal with HIV/AIDS.
Fifty-eight percent feel that current efforts to provide AIDS education to teenagers are inadequate. Many Thais fear people living with HIV/AIDS. While a great majority seem to be knowledgeable about how HIV is transmitted and how it is not, only 19 percent of respondents say they would buy food from an HIV-positive food seller. One in three of the respondents think that a teacher should stop teaching if HIV-positive. Forty percent of Thai men feel their families would reject them if they became infected with HIV. Thirty-six percent of Thai women feel the same.
Three quarters of those surveyed in the Opinion Poll feel confident that they are not at risk of AIDS infection. Curiously, more married people than singles feel at risk of HIV infection. Married women who were surveyed say they feel at risk because of their husbands’ sexual behaviour. Thai youth are in denial about the risk of HIV infection. Nearly 80 percent of young people 15-24 years old believe they are not at risk of infection. No wonder only about 20 percent of sexually active young people are using condoms consistently.
- Poll Results