about Epidemiology & the department

Epidemiology academic information

Epidemiology faculty

Epidemilogy resources

sites of interest to Epidemiology professionals


Frerichs, R.R. Premarital HIV testing in Thailand

SEA-AIDS Network, May 16, 1996

Posted in response to:

SEA-AIDS, May 9, 1996

From Zainudin Abdul Wahab, Kuala Lampur

I have been reading the news from local newspaper mentioning about the pre-marital HIV testing in Thailand. I read with interest that news which said that all the soon to be wedded Thais had to undergo compulsory HIV test. I would like to find out more information on that.

I was wondering whether our friends in Thailand could help me on this and would be very much appreciate if they could send me to any report/s relating to the above.

Thank you,

Dr. Zainudin Abdul Wahab

AIDS/STD Section, Min. of Health

Jalan Dungun, Bukit Damansara

50490 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

R.R. Frerichs Posting

In his May 9 posting, Dr. Zainudin Abdul Wahab asked colleagues in Thailand to send him reports on their premarital HIV testing efforts so that he and his colleagues in Malaysia could learn from the Thai experience. I too would welcome such information and hope that you would post your responses for all in the sea-group to read, rather than sending them directly to Dr. Zainudin.

Many have talked about the failures of premarital testing, citing earlier experiences in several US states to justify their concern. Eight years ago, after premarital screening began in Louisiana and Illinois, marriage licenses dropped 9 percent in Louisiana and 16 percent in Illinois, possibly as a reaction to mandated HIV testing (Petersen, LR et al. American Journal of Public Health 80(9)1087-1090, 1990). Yet 91 percent continued to get married in Louisiana and 84 percent continued to do so in Illinois, ignoring the fear of HIV testing that may have kept some away from the alter. 

Has Thailand experience similar problems with fewer people being willing to get married after premarital testing was made available? Or have couples recognized that testing is meant to help rather than harm, allowing them to detect the virus before it can move from one partner to the other? Do they recognize that Thai public health officials are doing their job in protecting susceptibles, or do they feel that government workers are trying to expose them to public identification, and possible social and psychological harm? We would all benefit from knowing more about the Thai experience.