The DPF started the AIDS project in 1988, at a time when AIDS was not widely recognized as a problem in Thailand. Since then the Foundation has been at the forefront of the campaign against the spread of AIDS in Thailand.
The DPF realized from the start that AIDS was not a threat confined to just a few "high risk" groups but must be of concern to everyone. Initially AIDS project staff found there was considerable irrational fear in slum communities, with people suffering from AIDS symptoms being rejected by family and friends. Now the attitude amongst Khlong Toei Slum dwellers has changed. People who have developed AIDS related illnesses are benefiting from home care administered by friends and relatives who have been trained at the Foundation.
Education has been the priority from the start. It is not possible to walk through Khlong Toei Slum for long without seeing posters or newsletters carrying AIDS information. The four full time AIDS staff have over 300 volunteers helping them in their work, they meet regularly with staff at the Foundation and then spread information in their slum community. The volunteers know the people in their neighbourhood, they can give advice, put up posters, and distribute leaflets and condoms.
Education especially focuses on young people, as they are the group most likely to indulge in high-risk behaviour. Social activities, concerts, sports events, camps and other recreational activities are used by DPF staff to get young people together and ensure that they are fully informed about Aids.
The other main thrust of the AIDS work is in caring for people who have already tested HIV positive. Workers regularly visit people suffering from the AIDS virus. Advice and support can be given and just taking time to talk to someone can give people in ill health a moral boost. Foundation staff also accompany people who are HIV positive on hospital visits, to ensure that they receive proper care.
There are far too many people suffering from Aids for foundation staff to visit them all frequently. DPF staff train family members and community volunteers in the care of people who are HIV+. In this way foundation staff can ensure that people who are confronting the worst effects of Aids receive the care they need. Where a family is threatened by poverty due to the ill-health of a wage earner the Foundation has financed job-training or income generation projects.
HIV positive babies also receive special attention as do older children who are victims of Aids. Some of the children are themselves infected with HIV+ at birth, but there are many more children who are indirect victims. Born to HIV+ parents, children must often cope with extreme poverty, they must suffer the ill-health and likely death of their parents. Such children can be the victims of abuse and neglect from other family members who they then live with.
The Foundation's AIDS workers do not just work in Khlong Toei Slum. They are often asked to speak at meetings all over the country. They have also joined with local volunteers in starting outreach projects in rural provinces.
Although the rate of new infections has slowed down, Aids remains a serious threat to the fabric of Thai society. The number of HIV positive people is estimated as being close to one million. The DPF AIDS Project staff will continue their work of education, especially for the young. They will also work to ensure that slum dwellers who are hit by Aids and their families will not suffer more than necessary.
The DPF. has extended to work on AIDS prevention with 5 networking agencies, funded by the global fund. It could reach youths in 14 provinces of the central region of the country.
As the project was due, and terminated in 2014.