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THAILAND - Jan 11, 2003

HIV infection rates among Thai youths soared a startling 55% last year. In 2001 the infection rate among sexually active young people was 11%, but rose to 17% in 2002.

Health officials blame lack of condom use for the increase. Safer sex campaigns have been effective at reaching niche communities, but the general population remains ill-informed, especially teenagers. While 97% of sex workers interviewed said that they insist on condom use with customers, studies show that less than 50% of teenagers use condoms during intercourse. A 1999 survey by condom maker Durex revealed that only 23% of young people said they used protection.

HIV disease is the 2nd leading cause of death among 15-to-24-year-old Thais. United Nations statistics say that more than 10% of the population of Thailand is already infected with HIV.


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