Thailand’s first community-led HIV clinic for people at high risk has opened in Chiang Rai serving homosexual men, transgender women and female sex workers.
The clinic, which makes prevention, testing and treatment services more readily available for high-risk individuals, is operated by the community-based Mplus Foundation.
It is funded by the government in partnership with the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) through the US Agency for International Development (USAid) Linkages Project implemented by FHI 360, a non-profit human-development organisation.
The Thai government is providing funds under a new cost-sharing model. The National Health Security Office has initially allocated 14 per cent of the operating budget, or Bt980,000, while Pepfar/USAid provides the balance.
“This new partnership is a key milestone demonstrating Thailand’s commitment to financing a community response to HIV,” US Ambassador Glyn Davies said at the opening last Friday.
“This year, as the United States and Thailand celebrate 200 years of friendship, we are proud of our three generations of public health cooperation with the Kingdom, and pleased to work with national health officials and communities to take, together, the final steps toward ending Aids,” he said.
Mplus provides access to high-quality services and provides rapid testing and HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, a combination of drugs to be taken daily to substantially reduce the risk of infection.
People testing positive for HIV will be able to start treatment quickly.
The government will reimburse the community health centre for part of the cost of services provided on a per-client-served basis.
Mplus Chiang Rai will also receive a small grant from Chiang Rai Hospital to implement HIV-related activities.
“The new Mplus clinic is a great example of the government-supported and co-financed Key Population-led Health Services Model for ensuring access to HIV services for all citizens,” said Praphan Phanuphak, director of the Thai Red Cross Aids Research Centre.
“We believe this model can be replicated across Thailand as well as in other countries.”