Contributor : Wattana Keiangpa
“A” has been living with HIV for 12 years, and has been virally suppressed for the past 7 years.
“When I was tested positive over ten years ago, I was not able to access ARV as my CD4 count was too high at the time. Now, it is much easier to access ARV and it is free in Thailand, and I want to make accessing ARV and staying on ARV to be a normal conversation in our community.
“A” started working with APCOM in 2013 as the coordinator between APCOM and the local community-based organisations. He is currently a member of the Test BKK campaign team implementing the PEPFAR/USAID/EpiC project focusing on encouraging men who have sex with men to know their HIV status and being linked to prevention, including PrEP and treatment services.
Prior to joining APCOM, he was a volunteer at the Poz Home Center, supporting PLHIV to access healthcare, giving information on ARVs and counselling, home-based visit, coordinating PLHIV support groups online and in hospitals. He believes that being HIV positive should not demean who you are and what you can achieve, and that he is able to provide expertise because he is living with HIV.
“The main issues for PLHIV in Thailand is about disclosing their HIV status for fear of rejection, feeling inadequate, and self-stigma.The principle of U=U helps you think that you are not a disease vector, I think it should also help bridge the conversation between HIV negative and HIV positive people within our community, and encourage more people to know their status, to be linked to treatment, and staying on treatment.
Originally from Northern Thailand, he loves to go to natural places like waterfalls, mountains and beaches with friends when he has free time. He also enjoys cooking and watching movies. At APCOM feels appreciated that his experience is valued, to be able to take a leading part in the U=U advocacy, and raising awareness to make society understand and not stigmatize those who live with HIV.