In wealthy countries, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is no longer considered as a death penalty, but for many poor nations, there is no greater or more immediate threat to public health and economic growth. Despite the spread of the disease in developing countries, few political leaders regard it as a priority. Since the identification of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, in the 1970s (Baker, 1), million of people have been infected and millions have died throughout the world.
This paper is an attempt to address one of the current issues regarding the AIDS epidemic currently existing in many Third World countries. The discussion will focus on Thailand, the first country in Asia to be hit by the epidemic (Baker, 1).
AIDS is a mass phenomenon and complex issue. Within the scope of this term paper, the discussions will highlight on Thailand's background, the current AIDS situation, the cultural factors contributing to the AIDS epidemic, the financial crisis' impact on public health, and the progress of AIDS research internationally.
Thailand's Background .
According to the World Factbook, "a unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century; it was known as Siam until 1939."" Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonized by a European power. However, "a bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy."" Thailand was a former ally of Japan during World War II, but became a United States' ally following the conflict (Factbook, 2). Since then, Thailand has embraced the Western ideal of democracy and economy. .
As of 1996, the Gross National Product (GNP) per capita in Thailand was $2,960, which is a big jump compared to a decade ago at $810 per capita (World Bank, 1996). In addition, the World Bank also stated that Thailand is a "lower-middle-income economy- because the GNP per capita is under $6000.