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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Thai Aids musicians to disband
A group of volunteers wearing condom outfits uniform parade in Bangkok to educate passers-by about safe sex
Thailand has been praised for anti-Aids campaigns
A Thai pop group made up of Aids patients looks set to disband after most of its latest members died, the group's lead singer has said.

The group performed for eight years by replacing dying members with other Aids sufferers, but no new talent has come forward, the singer told The Associated Press news agency.

The band has not performed in two months

Sawong Wanchahem, band leader
"HIV band" was set up in 1994 in a Buddhist temple in Lopburi province by seven Aids patients who wrote their own songs and performed in Western-pop style.

The songs were meant to educate people and also give hope to HIV/Aids sufferers.

After the seven original members died other patients took their place.

Hospice care

So far 60 people have been part of the band and died, its latest leader, Sawong Wanchahem, 33, told AP.

I have to carry on, to fight,
I must live to give my life meaning,
I must do good before I die

Lyrics from one of the songs
Four members of the latest version of the group died recently and two others are on their death bed, he said.

"The band has not performed in two months. I am the only one on his feet," Sawong said. "It would take some time to train newcomers to replace my old colleagues."

Sawong, who also plays the guitar, was speaking at the band's base in the Phrabath Namphu temple in Lopburi province, about 115 kilometres (70 miles) north of Bangkok.

The temple is also a hospice for dying Aids patients who are cared for by monks. Two or three patients die there every day.

More one million people in Thailand are infected with HIV, the virus which can lead to Aids, out of a population of 60 million.

But Thailand has also received international praise for its record in tackling HIV/Aids, including promotion of condom use, which is said to have saved at least 200,000 lives and brought the infection rate down by 80%.

See also:

21 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Thailand offers cheaper Aids treatment
17 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Window of opportunity' in Aids battle
17 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thailand blazes trail in Aids fight
25 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma faces Aids explosion
01 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thailand launches $1 health scheme
23 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
China comes clean on Aids
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