Friday, 15 May 2020
In Thailand, there is an estimated 480,000 people living with HIV 1. The youth of Thailand, those aged 15-24 years old, have the highest sexual transmission infection rate. This group is also less likely to access prevention and testing services.
Although Thai law protects people living with HIV, stigma is still a significant issue they face. Sadly, research shows that 58.6% of Thai people reported having discriminatory attitudes towards persons infected with HIV 2.
In 2018, Thailand had:
480,000 people living with HIV
1.1% adult HIV prevalence
6,400 new HIV infections
18,000 AIDS-related deaths
Hope For Life Thailand
(HFLT), one of SIM’s Hope For Life HIV ministries, outworks the compassion of Christ to those affected by or living with HIV. Areas of focus include prevention amongst Thai youth, provision of care and support to families impacted by HIV and equipping the church to respond to issues of brokenness within communities.
Jacqui Croxon, a SIM Australia mission worker who is serving with HFLT, said, “The heart of HFLT
is to bring hope and give life to those living with and impacted by HIV. We work to build relationships, care for and strengthen life, and provide places and spaces for learning, so that we may see lives and communities in Thailand transformed.”
Read how the team at HFLT
were able to demonstrate God’s love by journeying with a young woman who is living with HIV.
At What Cost
Last year, the team from HFLT
received news they had hoped never to hear. One of the young girls they had been journeying with, Archara*, had been admitted to hospital with a serious brain infection.
Visiting as soon as possible, the team was shocked to see the effects that the infection was having on their young friend’s body. Just two months earlier, Archara had been an active and happy participant in Hope for Life’s annual youth camp and, not long after that, they had helped to celebrate her 18th birthday. Now she was hardly recognizable, her head swollen from the infection on her brain.
As the team comforted and prayed with their young friend and her family, they held onto the hope that she was a fighter who had previously overcome a significant health battle.
team first met Archara when she was 13 years old. At the time, she weighed just 23 kilograms and was seriously ill from the impacts of HIV on her body. She had been born with HIV and there was concern that her short life would end soon.
team provided care and support to 13-year-old Archara, helping her and supporting her family, and delighting as she responded to treatment and the prayers of many. Two months after that, she sat an exam that enabled her to return to school. She had experienced more than a recovery; it was a transformation – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Now, Archara was battling another serious health issue. However, the team believed such a transformation, one like they had seen in her before, would again be possible.
Again, the team provided care and support to Archara and her family; helping them to understand the situation, advocating to medical staff, providing encouragement and always praying.
It was a long road, but slowly Archara gained enough strength to fight and begin to overcome the infection.
As she became stronger, the HFLT
team was able to talk with Archara, trying to determine if anything had caused her to become so sick. As the conversation flowed, it became apparent that she had faulted on taking her antiretroviral medication, something not uncommon for young people living with HIV.
Navigating life as a young person living with HIV can be particularly challenging. They must face the reality of a life that requires taking medication every day and the growing realisation of the difference between them and their peers. Without taking their medication, they can feel fine for a short period, but the cost can be extremely high.
team has the heart to assist young people living with HIV avoid such pitfalls. They seek to empower young people living with HIV, to help them understand that this virus they live with doesn’t make them any less than their peers, just different; and to equip them with the knowledge, understanding and – most importantly – the self-worth to ensure they are able to live their lives to the full!
On the 29th of April, the young girl who featured in this story passed away. The 19-year-old battled a severe brain infection for much of the latter part of 2019 and, since then, a number of its ongoing impacts. While the Hope For Life Thailand team mourns the loss of a dear friend, they are comforted knowing that she is now at peace in the arms of Jesus, who she had come to love and trust.
*Name changed to protect identity
1 Avert, 2018
2 Thai National Health Examination Survey, NHES V, National Health Examination Survey Office, 2018
Would you like to partner with the work of Hope For Life?
Do you feel called to outwork Christ’s love through serving with Hope For Life Thailand?
Please pray for strength and wisdom for Jacqui and the team at HFLT as they continue in journeying with individuals and communities impacted by HIV.
The description of the project is based on normal activities without social distancing and lockdown measures implemented in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
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