On December 1st 1991, the Bangkok Post declared that the HIV pandemic was rampant in Thailand. It was estimated that already 300,000 of the 60 million people living in Thailand were living with HIV and projected that this number could rise to 2 million by the year 2000.
ACET Thailand began in September 1992 as a response to this crisis and was one of the first Christian NGOs involved in HIV and AIDS work. The objectives were:
to educate, challenge and motivate churches throughout Thailand to show acceptance and compassion without prejudice to HIV infected people and people dying from AIDS-related illnesses
to bring the message of healthy life style choices to teenagers in secondary schools
To mobilise a Christian response, a quarterly magazine, “Love Your Neighbour”, was published and sent to 4,000 churches covering all denominations throughout the country. This eventually led to a financial contribution from the Ministry of Health in 1998 towards ACET Thailand’s home-based care programme involving 42 volunteers from 40 of Bangkok’s 250 churches. Two years later the programme grew by working in conjunction with a Christian hospital in Central Thailand and government funding was provided for several years. At one time there were 48 volunteers from 28 churches involved in ACET’s home-based care programme across 11 Central Thailand provinces.
In 2003, ACET Thailand was invited by the Ministry of Health to commence a home-based care programme in Singburi Province, 100 miles north of Bangkok. Under the capable leadership of Ms. Nataya Senatong, Singburi Province is now the main centre of ACET Thailand’s work.
Summary of Current Work:
Today, ACET Thailand seeks to provide compassionate care to people living with AIDS in Singburi so that they will no longer live in fear and despair, rejected by family and the community. This is important because people in general still lack true understanding about HIV and AIDS.
ACET Thailand also delivers lessons in Singburi secondary schools through their SMART Life education programme. This work is vitally important as incidences of HIV infection and teenage pregnancies are increasing among young people in Singburi.
Young people from the SMART Life programme are also involved in ACET Thailand’s work in practical ways. They take part in HIV and AIDS awareness activities in the community through local radio broadcasts, especially during Thai festivals. They also accompany ACET Thailand staff on visits to people living with AIDS, and the elderly, in hospital and their homes, taking them gifts of food as well as reading the Bible, singing and praying with them. These acts of love have touched many hearts.
Other ACET Thailand activities include encouragement of HIV and AIDS fellowship groups in churches, support groups for people living with HIV (particularly in regards to accessing and adhering to antiretroviral medication), and HIV and AIDS awareness events in churches and the community.