Supatra Nacapew

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2004
Foundation for AIDS Rights (FAR)


This profile was prepared when Supatra Nacapew was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Supatra Nacapew partners traditional efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Thailand with a congruent effort to control and prevent the spread of attendant discrimination. Her Center for AIDS Rights is the first in the country to place the rights and wellbeing of people with HIV/AIDS at the center of its agenda. Rather than fighting for the interests of persons with HIV/AIDS in isolation, Supatra links their interests to those of the broader society. She demonstrates that giving people with HIV the right to obtain equal access to life-preserving drugs and medical care sets a precedent, establishing a right to health care that benefits everyone. Similarly, when schools eliminate barriers to entry for children with HIV/AIDS, the effect is to cement the right to education for all children. She shows that eliminating compulsory blood tests of job seekers protects all workers from unfair practices and job discrimination.
Casting a wide net, Supatra’s work brings together victims of discrimination, members of occupational groups, government officials, and donor agency representatives. On any given day, Supatra and her team may negotiate with a factory owner to end a prohibition on staff with HIV/AIDS, offer legal advice to a group of sex workers, or meet with a government minister to encourage policy changes. The work is deliberately diverse, and calls for the cooperation of an expansive network of professionals: when a minister commits to new regulations, academics can ensure they are effectively written, nongovernmental organizations can monitor enforcement, persons with HIV/AIDS can make complaints about breaches in compliance, and lawyers can take up cases of violation.
While Supatra often talks about her work in terms of the rights of individuals, ultimately she prizes its benefit to communities above all. Her programs directly profit the victims of discrimination, but they aim to secure rights and improve the quality of life for all people in Thailand.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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