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Bangkok deputy-governor blames rise in HIV on gay TV shows

According to Thaweesak Lertprapan, deputy-governor of Bangkok, there has been a rapid rise of HIV cases amongst the young male Thai community, which he claims is a result of homosexuality being seen as a hot ‘fashion’, and a trend created and encouraged by the growing number of ‘gay’ TV programs being broadcast.

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Assertions are challenged

Lertprapan’s comments, which he admits himself are based on something he heard others talking about, rather than hard facts, have attracted a huge amount of criticism from a wide variety of sources.

For example, research undertaken by UNAIDS shows the number of new HIV cases being reported has been falling steadily since the early 1990s, although around half of all new cases reported do involve men who are sex workers, or have either male or transgender sexual partners. These are the groups slipping through the nets.

Gay themed TV shows can actually help

Most experts dismiss any notion that anyone, let alone young men, are tempted to become gay to follow fashion, after watching a televised soap opera featuring characters in gay relationships. In fact, some think that such shows could have a positive influence on the public.

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Many young people in Thailand are afraid to be tested for HIV, to learn about how to prevent it, or to accept treatment if needed, as they are simply too scared of facing discrimination. On the other hand, having respected and accepted LGBT+ characters on everyday TV shows generates a feeling of acceptance, and increases both their confidence and the chance they will ask for help and advice when needed.

The importance of TV in health education

Television companies can use various forms of programming to widen the net when sharing information on LGBT+ lifestyle news and related issues, such as normalising a range of sexual identities, and this applies to many countries around the world. Of course, being able to access TV means having the right equipment in working order. Anyone looking for aerial installations in Bristol can get help from specialists such as http://aerial-installations-bristol.co.uk/installation-and-repair-services/tv-aerial-installation-bristol/.

It seems then that although the deputy governor’s opinions were unjustified and inaccurate, the debates and discussions he has triggered could lead to positive outcomes for the future of HIV prevention and education in Thailand.

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