Thailand's ''Mr Condom'', Mechai Viravaidya, who has saved millions of lives by raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, says his country is facing a new crisis from the infection.
''I innocently thought I had done the job … but the government has fallen asleep at the wheel. There is a total indifference to a war we have to fight,'' says the Australian-educated former politician whose 20-year campaign popularised condoms and led to a revolution in family planning and AIDS awareness in many developing countries.
''With a new campaign we can prevent a lot of early deaths,'' he says at his Birds and Bees Resort on a secluded beach near Pattaya, where restaurant diners are given free condoms.
Three hours' drive away in central Thailand, the celebrated monk Alongkot Dikkapanyo, who has seen 30,000 AIDS victims die at his hillside temple, warns that a new wave of mainly young Thais face infection.
''A big problem facing our country now is that young boys and young girls - 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 - are having sex and not protecting themselves,'' says Alongkot, who was also educated in Australia.
At least one person becomes HIV-positive every hour in Thailand, joining more than a million Thais who have been infected since the first case was reported here in 1984.
The United Nations says Mechai's campaign caused a decline of 90 per cent in new HIV infections over 12 years from 1991, which the World Bank estimates saved 7.7 million lives.
But the infection rate is again steadily rising, with 9470 new cases a year being reported, 80 per cent of them caused by unsafe sex.
About 62 per cent of the 464,414 people known to be infected with the virus in the country are male, the Thai Ministry of Health says.
Mechai warns that an estimated 250,000 Thais are unaware they are carrying the HIV virus. ''They are not going for testing and they are having sex around the place,'' he says. ''Getting them to be tested should be a priority.''
Mechai calls on the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, to take charge immediately of a campaign blitz on sex.