In June 2007, Thailand introduced its 2007-2011 National AIDS Plan which recognizes its failures in combating HIV and AIDS among drug users and prisoners, and proposes to scale up efforts to ensure access to HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment services to them.

Thailand’s success in addressing HIV/AIDS in the broader population is due in large part to its decision to engage people living with and at high risk of HIV/AIDS and their networks as equal partners in its response. If Thailand is to make progress in its efforts to fight HIV and AIDS among drug users, it must engage people who use drugs as equal partners in its plans and in the same spirit as it has other people living with and at high risk of HIV/AIDS. Open communication about methadone and about drug use, without fear of negative consequences, is critical to receiving good care. Thailand must therefore follow its commitments with prompt and forceful action to address the violations of human rights against drug users and prisoners by law enforcement and healthcare providers, and the widespread prejudices by government and civil society against them.

If Thailand takes such steps, it could reach its goal of ensuring universal access to HIV/AIDS services to all those who need them. Otherwise, it will miss an opportunity to reverse the course of its epidemic, and at the cost of thousands of drug users’ lives.