PLWHA Group Work

While >100,000 people with HIV now access antiretroviral therapy in Thailand, rapid treatment scale-up has not been accompanied by adequate support for the strengthening of PLWHA groups to advocate locally, nationally and internationally for their rights.

Of hundreds of groups of PLWHA around the country, many are connected to district and provincial hospitals where ARV are available; yet significant challenges, including related to treatment access, persist. Many thousands of people still die of AIDS-related diseases each year, and many are diagnosed too late.

Stigma and discrimination, human rights, disclosure, sexual and reproductive issues, economic and other major concerns are currently under-addressed and receive little attention or support.

TTAG has created a peer-to-peer PLWHA leadership-building model to support local PLWHA groups to maximize the power of their group and ultimately strengthen their participation in key issues that affect their lives, including their participation in local and national networks and where important decisions are made. Recognizing that each group has its own identity and reality, TTAG works through a consultative process with key local stakeholders including PLWHA networks, hospital staff and NGOs to identify and partner with groups and customize a plan for technical and small-grant support. TTAG works with 8 groups in Southern, Central and Northeast Thailand and in 2007 will develop a shareable curricula and a “lessons-learned” document for peer-to-peer PLWHA capacity-building based on these 8 key partnerships. TTAG will also begin a multi-media oral history project to capture the lived experiences, lessons and history of Thailand’s ongoing PLWHA movement as a key strategy for critical network-revitalizing at the local, regional and national levels toward a more PLWHA-driven agenda.

“The group should be a model for standing up and having a voice; it should motivate everyone for action.” – Group member, Loei Province

“I want to see our group have more of a role and more capacity in solving our own problems than we have now. I also want the group leaders to be confident in our work, and make other members feel confident in their work more than they feel right now.” Group member, Loei Province

“I have a lot of hope for this group in terms of the kind of support we can offer each other as positive people, especially in terms of accepting one’s self as a positive person and handling all the emotions and mental challenges that come with it.” - Group member, Sakhon Nakhon Province