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December 18, 2008
Thailand’s “Mr. Condom” battles AIDS

In Thailand, AIDS continues to be a leading cause of death, despite significant successes against the disease. HIV surged in Thailand in the 1980s, exacerbated by the country’s sex industry.

Now, Thailand’s efforts to combat AIDS — including its “100 Percent Condom Use” program and its creation of low-cost antiretroviral drugs — have helped reduce the prevalence of the disease from 140,000 new cases a year to fewer than 20,000.

However, because the disease now seems less urgent, infected mothers pass on the disease to their children — 15,000 Thai children are infected with AIDS. Stigma surrounding the disease persists.

Worldfocus correspondent Mark Litke travels to Thailand to assess the country’s progress and remaining challenges. He speaks with Mechai Viravaidya, or “Mr. Condom,” who has led the country’s fight against AIDS.

Blogger “Ciee” writes about the history of AIDS in Thailand, including the role of prostitution in spreading the disease, arguing that the country still has a long way to go.

Blogger “Katie Tibone” argues that the successes of Thailand’s fight against AIDS have allowed the government to slip into complacency, and urges local communities to take action.

The “American in Bangkok” blog visits an AIDS hospice in Lopburi, Thailand, that is working to combat social stigma.

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This is a very informative program and should continue on the air…..too much “kiddie” programming and Tavis Smiley…why do you cancel this excellent journalistic experience???


We NEED more TV like “WORLD Focus”… I have been watching your show from show #1…I am so very disappointed, and it is a disgrace, that your show will be going off air! PLEASE keep your show going!!!!!!!!


Addition to post just made about Fr Joe Maier.

I failed to include Greg Barrett’s website address: You can also write him directly at

Just do a search of Father Joe Maier and Greg Barrett and you will find yourself tied to the computer for a long and very interesing read.

When you check out Greg-look for one o fhis videos speaking about his personal experience at Mercy and writing of the very special story about a priest who has made a difference in the lives of Klong Toey poor. Marian


Henk asked about an address for donations to Father Joe Maier. You can donate through their official website or if a US citizen, best to go through Human Development Children’s Foundation at:
You can make a donation of any size and also sponsor a child and make a great difference in the lives of poor Thai children. As a qualified 501c3 foundation, donations to HD&CF are tax deductible for US residents, and a receipt with an IRS tax number will be supplied.

To learn more about Father Joe’s work- check out the many videos on the two websites, and also be sure and pick up the well-done book written by Greg Barrett. It is called THE GOSPEL OF FATHER JOE – Greg went to Thailand to write about the sex trade, but what he found was Fr Joe and the life-changing story about Mercy Centre’s orphanage thatis home to more than 250 children. Mercy also houses an Aids Hospice and under the direction of Fr. Joe a

Father Joe also wrote stories about the Mecy children that were 1st published in Bangkok Postand later made into a book.- It is called – Welcome to the Bangkok Slaughterhouse.

Do yourself a favor and check out Fr Joe.

I have known Fr Joe for over 60 years and was privileged to be at Mercy last summer as a volunteer. It was a life-changing experience and an honor to see lst hand the love and care given the children and families who live in Klong Toey and come to Mercy. Hope this gives you another peek into a life of a man who is not only a priest taking care of his flock, but a man who is also a father to so many homeless children
Marian Swanson


Thanks for this….


It is gratifying to see people focus on AIDS and prevention education. I think we need to start this education at an early age… and as hard as it might be for parents to discuss sex and safety with their children, condoms are a huge part of that education. We need to support people like Mr. Condom, and thank them for their efforts on others’ behalfs. Karen Bessey Pease, author of juvenile fiction, Grumble Bluff,


Father Joe Maier @ Mercy Center:


I enjoyed my recent visit to Thailand and appreciate their culture and hospitality. I saw the program on the AIDS epedimic that affect the children and it sadden me. I like to contribute to Father Joe who looks after the children. Is there an address that I can send a simple donation?


As a Person of Thai Descent,know that Thailand along with the rest of the world is struggling with the containment of AIDS and its epedimic. I believe that Thailand is doing their best in educating the public, the encouragement of correct contraception usage, legalized prostitution, generic productionof AIDS drugs, and so forth. I believe that Thailand could improve the system by implementing srticter STI and STD screenng for all sex workers for free and make the availability of contraception and sex education for free or a low price a priority. I belive that eventhough the AIDS epedimic is health and financially related, the cultural and social stigmas also influence the AIDS epedemic along with some gender inequality. These social issues are not only an issue in Thailand, but in other parts of the world as well. The USA has not legalized prostitution and has therefore fed the epedimic by leaving unscreened sex workers to spread the disease. The AIDS virus is a very complex disease of our lifetime, it draws the economic, social, potitical, moral, scientific, and cultural values to the top and challenges the human race like never before. the issues to be discussed in my comment are endless, but I hope my opinion has been heard.


Thank you so much for covering issues everyone else ignores or puts on the backburner. This story and the one about the Cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe makes me realize how fortunate I am to have access PBS. Please keep up the fine work. Ever so grateful.

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