Voices and Choices / Network of Women Living with HIV in Thailand (Positive Women)
Almost half of HIV-infected people in Thailand are women, and young women are the most vulnerable. As part of social and cultural impacts, many people face the misunderstanding of society because of sexual bias. This hinders the practice of safe sex and access to health and wellness information. Many women are not empowered to negotiate safe sex with their partner, and that puts them at risk of contracting an STI, including HIV.
Many women cannot accept the fact that they have HIV infection or dare not disclose their HIV+ status to their own partner. If the her partner finds out, he often leaves the woman, even without knowing how she became infected in the first place. What is worse, many HIV+ women are pressured to have a sterilization since the health practitioners assume that a pregnancy will result in an infected newborn. Women are unfairly portrayed as the person who spreads HIV; not the man.
The Voices and Choices project of the Positive Women group are helping women build capacity and acquire positive strength, confidence, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and the ability to have a caring relationship with their partner. They also help women to share with their peers and health providers, so that they have self-determination in their life decisions. Taken together, these voices of positive women are influencing national policy on sexual and reproductive health, with a special consideration for HIV+ women.
To document the problems of HIV+ women, and present these to the policy makers to create guidelines for promoting a woman’s ability to choose. The campaign creates a public understanding of the issues of sexual attitudes and stigma of HIV infection in women, and to inform service providers in the public sector of the challenges these women face. The project educates public and private service providers about the need to provide reproductive health services for HIV+ women. The project has guidelines for working with male partners as well as service providers on sexual and reproductive health issues.
Phayao and Chiang Mai Provinces