Although the prevalence of HIV in Thailand has been declining recently among the general population, the level remains high among drug users (20%+), MSM (8-22%) and sex workers (7% among direct sex workers and 21% among street walkers). A high proportion of infected individuals in need of treatment (currently set at 350 mm3 CD4 cells) still do not receive treatment, and a high proportion of newly identified individuals already have low CD4 levels. The Thai Ministry of Public Health is now implementing a new strategy, the Area-Based Surveillance System, which will require expanding their research capacity and to generating more accurate strategic information. Through a series of in-country courses and short- and long- term training in advanced research methodologies, the UCLA Department of Epidemiology proposes to assist the Division of Epidemiology of the Thai Ministry of Public Health to achieve the goals of the Area-Based Surveillance System to enhance research capacity. Thus, we propose to train four M.S. candidates, two Ph.D. candidates, and three short-term postdoctoral trainees at UCLA. The degree candidates will conduct their field research for their theses and dissertations in Thailand under the supervision of the Thai faculty members. The short courses to be given in Thailand include strategies for communicating public health messages, strategies for implementing community intervention programs, modeling for disease burden, assessment of intervention strategies, mobile phone and internet technologies for data collection, program monitoring, coordination and supervision of staff, and evidence-based behavioral interventions. Candidates for the UCLA-based programs will be recommended by the Thai faculty on the basis of their academic records, commitment to HIV and public health research, and intention to promote the health of Thais (all of our previous trainees have returned to Thailand).
Thailand has experienced one of the most severe HIV epidemics in Southeast Asia. The Division of Epidemiology of the Thai Ministry of Public Health and the have taken the lead in developing surveillance programs and conducting research essential for developing and evaluating sound HIV/AIDS policy. The proposed UCLA/Fogarty Thai Ministry of Public Health program in advanced research methodology will assist the Ministry of Public Health by training public health professionals to conduct relevant HIV/AIDS research and to develop and assess evidence-based intervention strategies for control of HIV in Thailand.