Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Better To Light A Candle Than Just Bitch, I Guess

Bees pause briefly while carrying pollen (and other things) from one beautiful bloom to another. Get the idea?

Although yesterday's post was more about hope than anything else a comment came in saying (I'm paraphrasing here) "what can be done about it if the Thai themselves don't care?" and it warrants following up on the post here rather than trying to put it into a comment reply. The comment also contained a link and some inappropriate language so I didn't let it go through, but here's my reply:

First and foremost I didn't say the Thai aren't concerned about what I call our Modern Day Plague. Only a total idiot or someone with a death wish would line up to be stricken with HIV or AIDS, and there's far more visible public education going on in Thailand than in the United States - to our shame, I might add.  On top of that, it takes two to tango and far too many visitors to Thailand feel that the "anything goes" mentality makes the wishful thought of invincibility in some way a prophylactic of the classic definition... which, by the way, it's not.

Naturally I don't mean to imply that the following could include any of you reading this, but tourists can be reckless, impulsive and selfish even when sober, and far too many regularly tranquilize themselves in the name of having a good time, which can sometimes make things worse.

In that spirit I'll light a candle rather than merely curse the darkness. Here goes. . .

Quite a while ago I posted a piece about safe sex and included a Thai public service announcement about it that's still a fine example of clear thinking on the part of the Thai media. I'm re-posting that clip here:

...and here's a newer one about birthdays (and very thoughtful gifts, I might add):

Nevertheless, it was still estimated as late as 2010 that 60% of sexually active teenagers, more than 50% of males having sex with males and 40% of sex workers didn't use condoms consistently [source: Thai Department of Disease Control].  The highest numbers of new infections in Thailand tend to be in the middle-twenties age bracket, the most popular age for many in the sex trade, where the infection rate is between 25% and 35%, depending on which source you choose to accept.

An unpleasant reminder
of a pleasant encounter
If you have friends in Thailand - especially those in any of the categories in the paragraph above - may I suggest you make an effort to do something to help. Bringing the topic up in conversation may well be awkward, but if you're truly friends it's worth the risk of being seen as a bit forward, and if this person is at high risk (i.e. in "the trade") it's well worth the risk, isn't it?

There are several worthwhile organizations out there that do great work helping educate those in the sex trade with facts and safe sex supplies, and perhaps you could show them a web site or give them contact information. One of these is the Bangkok-based SWING (Service Workers in Group) on Patpong Soi 1. Another I've heard encouraging things about is MPlus+ in Chiang Mai (although I can't personally vouch for them).

There are two in Pattaya that I have had direct contact with and would personally vouch for: Heartt2000 and TakeCare Safe Sex Project.

Heartt2000 is the umbrella over Dr. Philippe Seur and his work helping those who aren't sure where to go and those who think they have nowhere else to go. While some assistance is available through the Thai National Health not all of the more effective treatments are included yet, and that's where Seur is (more than likely) a life saver.

TakeCare volunteers fill and distribute packets of condoms, lube and information to male club workers. Their supplies come from private donations.  One year I took them a box of 1,000 condoms and have another case of lube sachets waiting to take on my next trip, but they're fine with cash donations, too.

If you can't do anything else to help while on holiday - wherever that may be - and your holiday just isn't complete without having intimate contact with a native at the very least set a proper example and practice safe sex yourself.  Every time.

Feel free to forward the link to this post to Thai friends so they can see the commercials above as well as the information below if you want. I took 15 minutes and scanned a brochure that won't make a lot of sense to you if you don't read Thai, but it might help a Thai avoid infection.  I'd like that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are a gem of a human being. Respect.