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AIDS Groups Besiege Japanese PM

A network of Thai Aids advocacy groups yesterday sent a letter to the Japanese prime minister asking that HIV-infected Thai workers be treated properly even if they were being deported from his country for being there illegally.

The letter, signed by three Thai activists, was written in the wake of the recent death of a Thai woman and permanent disability of

another, allegedly as a result of delays in proper treatment from Japanese public-health authorities.

The letter, addressed to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Nagano prefecture governor Jin Murai and Ibaraki prefecture governor

Masaru Hashimoto, cited a case in which a Thai woman became disabled because she was denied proper treatment after developing a brain abscess.

She died not long after returning to Thailand for treatment. The letter claimed she and the other woman were denied treatment after developing new and serious complications because they lacked health insurance. Both women had overstayed their visas for unknown reasons.

Part of the letter reads: "We strongly recommend that the Japanese public-health authorities and concerned government agencies should lead other medical facilities in giving appropriate and prompt treatment to patients, regardless of their nationality or visa status. Please do not refuse to treat them. Any such refusal may be the equivalent of a death sentence and may worsen Japan's own Aids problems.

"It is recommended that the Japanese government and local administrations should allocate an adequate budget to finance the urgent treatment of foreign patients. Japan's reputation as a large donor to Aids treatment through the Global Fund will otherwise be discredited by the failure to provide adequate medical treatment for foreigners residing in Japan to the point where their lives are at risk."

The letter was signed by Boripat Donmon, chairperson of the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/Aids, Supatra Nacapew, chairperson of the Thai non-governmental organisation the Coalition on Aids and director of the Foundation for Aids Rights, and Nimit Tienudom, director of the Aids Access Foundation.

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