Preventing AIDS In Thailand

Preventing AIDS In Thailand
Learn to think like an influencer. Watch as Dr. Wiwat Rojanapithayakorn discusses how he influenced behavior to prevent millions of cases of HIV/AIDS in Thailand.

Imagine you’re in charge of stopping a deadly AIDS epidemic that’s spreading like wildfire. An epidemic that has spread to hundreds of thousands of people within a few short years and is accelerated by a booming, HIV-infected sex industry.

Meet Dr. Wiwat Rojanapithayakorn, one of the influence masters we studied in our research for the book, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything. As a regional director of the office of disease control, Dr. Wiwat stepped up to the task of combating one of the most threatening epidemics in history—the roaring AIDS outbreak in Thailand.

After testing of sex workers, they found up to one third of them, 33%, being infected. An then one infected sex worker spread to many customers—maybe three per night—and then spread to others and then to new sex workers who contracted the disease and spread. So you can see that these types of cycles, it makes disease spread very rapidly .

Experts at the time predicted that if nothing was done there would be over 4 million cases of HIV/AIDS by the year 2000. And with no existing cures for the virus, Dr. Wiwat was left to rely on changing people’s behavior to stop spread of the disease. But influencing the behavior of millions of people is no small task.

“When we ask our children, our students, what the mode of transmission of HIV, almost everyone answers that it’s sex, it’s the use of drugs, from mother to child transmission, from blood donate, from blood transfusion, it looks simple. It’s quite unbelievable that we know the cause of the transmission and we want to stop the disease, but few countries in the world are going to be successful nowadays.”

Dr. Wiwat, however, has shown that it can be done. Shortly after launching his influence strategy, new cases of HIV/AIDS plummeted from 200,000 to 25,000 per year. That’s an 80% percent drop in new cases. And the long term effects are even more impressive.

“The program already prevented more than five million infections.”

Dr. Wiwat is an Influencer. Are you?