Thailand's "Condom King" will receive a one-million-dollar award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Thursday on behalf of the group he founded to promote family planning and AIDS prevention.
Mechai Viravaidya, the founder and chairman of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), will be presented with the 2007 Gates Award for Global Health at a health conference in Washington, the Gates Foundation said.
"When we began our work in 1974, we couldn't have imagined a health crisis on the scale of HIV/AIDS," Viravaidya said in a Gates Foundation release announcing the award.
"I was thrilled to see PDA's staff and volunteers rise to the challenge of the epidemic, and I am deeply honored to accept this award on their behalf," he said in the statement released Tuesday.
The one-million-dollar (740,000-euro) award, which honors "extraordinary" efforts to improve health in developing nations, is the world's largest prize for international health, according the Gates Foundation.
PDA's achievements include playing a pivotal role in establishing Thailand's national HIV prevention campaign in 1991, which led to an 87 percent reduction in new infections of the virus that causes AIDS, the Foundation said.
"Mechai Viravaidya is widely known as Thailand's 'Condom King,' a testament to his extraordinary popularity as well as his personal leadership in family planning and HIV prevention," said Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council.
"The world needs more leaders like Mechai, who are willing to tackle taboo subjects like sex and HIV/AIDS directly in order to save lives."
The non-profit association It was chosen from more than 90 nominees by a jury of global health leaders.
The prize will be presented at the Global Health Council's 34th Annual International Conference on Global Health in Washington. The Gates Foundation was created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.