Monday, Nov 3
The AIDS epidemic in Thailand, as in other countries with significant numbers of persons with HIV/AIDS (PHAs), has created a major need for health care and material and emotional support for those infected and their families. The government and NGOs offer significant but limited health and welfare services to PHAs and their dependents. Compared to many of the poorest African countries where the AIDS epidemic is far worse, formal health and welfare assistance to PHAs and their families are probably far better in Thailand. Yet this formal safety net still leaves the bulk of care and support to be found outside such organized efforts. Under such circumstances, most needed assistance, both before and after death, is provided within the context of the family. Older age parents typically play a central role in caring for and supporting their adult sons and daughters when then become seriously ill with AIDS. In many cases other family members, especially non-infected adult siblings and spouses of the PHA also help. The fact that more than half of PHAs in Thailand eventually end up living with nearby parents at the final stage of their illness and that parents commonly provide care and support to their AIDS afflicted adult sons and daughters testifies to older age parents as the ultimate safety net in the context of the Thai AIDS epidemic.