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Pattaya Daily News

22 July 2008 :: 15:07:31 pm 43262

Thai “Condom King” to Campaign in Us

The "Condom King" of Thailand, Mechai Viravaidya, is to carry his message to the USA about the dangers of HIV/AIDS as part of his 30 year mission to reduce the HIV/AIDS infection rate, worldwide.
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Mr. Mechai will give a lecture entitled “Healing the Globe,” in Greater Cleveland onTuesday, July 29, as part of the Chautauqua-in-Chagrin summer lecture series. Mr. Mechai, who is Thai-farang, the farang part being Australian, has been campaigning for more than 30 years in Thailand to promote family planning and reduce the HIV/AIDS infection rate. His name is so well-known in Thailand that in rural areas, the Thai slang for condom is “mechai.”

In 1991 Mr. Mechai was made Thailand’s AIDS czar and became known as the father of AIDS prevention. One of his first acts was to order routine testing of workers in the Thailand’s prolific sex trade, and to encourage widespread condom use. He has been honored by various organizations, for example, In 2005, Time magazine profiled him as part of the “60 Years of Asian Heroes” issue and he was also the 2007 Recipient of the Gates Award for Global Health

“I knew very well that this could be a match in dry grass and Thailand would burn if we didn’t do anything about it because there was commercial sex and this could spread very, very rapidly,” he said in a 2005 PBS special documenting his work.

Mechai and the grass-roots Population and Community Development Association, (PCDA), which he founded in 1974, (PCDA) have been largely responsible for slashing the country’s AIDS infection rate from 140,000-plus new cases per year in 1991 to about 20,000 in 2003.

During the height of the HIV/AIDS prevention campaign, Mechai held condom-blowing contests in rural villages, opened a resort named “Birds and Bees,” and started a Bangkok-based restaurant chain called Cabbages & Condoms, where instead of mints free condoms are handed out at the end of dinner.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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