The Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand volunteer shares his story on Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) & the prevention of Gender Based Violence (GBV)

I joined a compressive sexuality education (CSE) session organized by The Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand (PPAT) a couple of years ago. From the session, I learnt about STIs, HIV, and CSE for the first time in my life. Peer educators at the session showed a photo of venereal wart. I was shocked because it looked just like what I had.

So, without any further delay, after the training, I immediately met the clinical staff at PPAT clinic in Chiang Rai for a medical check-up, which confirmed that it was real – I had venereal wart. So, I decided to receive treatment immediately!

Then, after some counselling sessions, I took the HIV test as suggested. Mentally, it took a big toll on me, and then the big question popped in my mind “what if I have it”?

The question was looping in my head non-stop; I would think about it first thing in the morning, multiple times during the day, and when I am trying to sleep at night. I was terrified of the answer and the possibility!

The result showed I was HIV positive. It was a bumpy journey for me as I was allergic to one of the medicine of ARV medication; I thought I was going to die! So, I decided to drop that medicine with the agreement and understanding, and respect from the doctor.

What seemed like a normal day yesterday immediately became the scariest day for me today. I was anxious on how many days I had left before I pass – was it only for a month? A week? Or even just a day left?

Every time I thought of my condition, my palms started sweating, my body started to tremble and I would lose appetite for food. There was a time when I did not eat for two days because I was so scared of what may happen to me and not knowing that it was all in my mind.

This made me realise I needed inner peace, which lead me to think of entering the monkhood. I felt that only god could help me at that stage. However, my mind changed when I started to realise minor changes in my body due to the ARV treatment I have receiving.

After two months of treatment, I started to feel my body reacting to the medication and thus the increase in my body’s immunity. I grew stronger mentally, physically, and phychology. I had hope again, hope for tomorrow, for my future and hope that I was prepared to fight against HIV.

HIV did change my life upside-down; HIV did change my life in ways I never imagined possible. But most of all, it showed me how strong I can be and that I won’t give up the fight! I will continue studying because I believe I still do have a bright future. I am grateful that PPAT staff stood by me through this time.

All those tough experiences I lived with so far, they inspired me to work as PPAT volunteer, to share CSE knowledge; not only in terms of sexuality education but also on ending sexual exploitation and abuse. Many people fail to recognize that CSE plays an important role in ending sexual abuse, sexual harassment, marital rape, which increases women and girls vulnerability to HIV.

I want to make a difference and educate others about CSE, HIV and how it can link to gender based violence. Ever since I realised how important CSE is, I am willing to give all my efforts on sharing CSE with my peers at school through group discussions and working as a service provider. I want to DEVOTE myself to the society, as an active agent for CHANGE. I PROMISE.

Yours sincerely,

Chi, a Thai male student living with HIV, PPAT volunteer and peer educator on CSE and the prevention of gender based violence.