Flame it on the sunshine: Thai solar chicken a hot hit

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This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows food vendor Sila Sutharat turning the grates on a cart loaded with chicken as he cooks the white meat with rays of sun reflected on an oversized mirror panel on his property in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
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This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows food vendor Sila Sutharat pointing to chickens being cooked by rays of sun reflected onto an oversized mirror panel on his property in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
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This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows Mali Pansari, the wife of food vendor food vendor Sila Sutharat, carrying a tray of cooked chicken past an advertising panel displaying the photo of her husband at their eatery in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
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This picture taken on May 4, 2017 shows Mali Pansari, the wife of vendor food vendor Sila Sutharat, tending to their eatery where they sell chicken and pork cooked by solar rays in Petchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2017
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Flame it on the sunshine: Thai solar chicken a hot hit

THAILAND: Not many chefs don a welding mask before they enter the kitchen, but Sila Sutharat prefers to cook his chicken sunny side up.
Two hours south of Bangkok this 60-year-old roadside vendor has found an ingenious way to offer his customers something a little different by harnessing the power of the sun.
Using a large wall of nearly 1,000 moveable mirrors — a device he designed and built himself — he focuses the sun’s rays onto a row of marinated chickens, sizzling away under the intense heat.
His unusual culinary methods raised a few eyebrows when he first hit upon the idea.
“They said that I’d gone mad, that cooking chicken like this was impossible,” he told AFP next to his stall, the row of sun-drenched chickens behind him too bright to look at for any length of time.
“After a long time passed by, they’d say: ‘Actually, you could do it’,” he added.
That’s because the the solar reflector generates intense heat, easily enough to match an oven, with a sunshine-baked chicken taking just twelve minutes to cook through.
For much of the last 20 years Sila grilled in relative obscurity for a fairly local crowd.
But after videos of his solar-cooker went viral online, people from across Thailand have flocked to his stall in Phetchaburi province.
Sila says the idea came to him in 1997 when he was struck by the heat reflecting off a passing bus.

“I thought, with this heat reflecting from the window from the sun, I could possibly change it into energy,” he said.
Sila says that compared to a traditional charcoal grill — which he used before his solar epiphany — his meat is more tender and evenly-cooked.
And given Thailand’s sweltering tropical climate, the sun is a free, clean and totally sustainable energy source.
“At the time, energy such as petrol and gas was becoming more expensive and suppliers were also running out of wood to sell,” he recalled.
“I thought if I used solar energy, I could save a lot. And it also decreases pollution.”
Sila and his wife Pansri now cook around 40 chickens — as well as several sides of pork — each day.
“We’ve been eating here for a long time,” said regular patron Thanyarat Kaewpaleuk, who was tucking into lunch with her husband.
“It’s delicious. His chicken is fatty, it’s not burned and doesn’t smell like a charcoal grill, which you can smell on the meat.”


Nearly four in 10 US HIV infections from people unaware of infection

This electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows a human T cell, in blue, under attack by HIV, in yellow, the virus that causes AIDS. (AP)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Nearly four in 10 US HIV infections from people unaware of infection

  • The Trump administration has said it will invest $291 million in the next financial year to fight HIV/AIDS, which has plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000 annual transmissions

WASHINGTON: Almost 40 percent of new HIV cases in the US occur because people do not know they are infected, while a similar proportion know but are not in treatment, according to a study released Monday.
The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based on 2016 data and aims to bolster a strategy outlined by President Donald Trump to end the epidemic within 10 years.
The strategy has two main strands: far more widespread screening, and enabling the infected better access to treatment from the moment they test positive.
The study found that 38 percent of infections came from HIV-positive people who were unaware of their status, and 43 percent from people who knew they were infected but took no anti-retroviral drugs.
The remaining infections came from people who were receiving HIV treatment but were not yet “virally suppressed.”
The CDC blamed financial, social and other reasons for people not using medication, which these days typically comes in the form of a daily pill with minimal side effects.
The study said that the infection rate from the half million people in the United States who take medication and are virally suppressed — meaning they cannot pass on the disease to others — was zero.

The most at-risk group remains homosexual men, with almost three-quarters of new infections coming from men having sex with men, the report said.
Five percent of infections came from intravenous drug abuse among homosexual men, while 10 percent came from injecting drugs among the rest of the population.
Twelve percent of infections were among heterosexuals. Overall, the highest rate of transmission was among 13 to 24-year-olds.
The Trump administration has said it will invest $291 million in the next financial year to fight HIV/AIDS, which has plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000 annual transmissions.
The goal is to reduce that number by 75 percent within five years and by 90 percent in 10 years.
Questioned about the relatively small amount of money earmarked for the multi-billion dollar task of treating HIV carriers, CDC head Robert Redfield said he was “confident that the resources that are required to accomplish this mission are in the long term plan.”
The CDC, based in Atlanta, Georgia, wants doctors to make HIV screening a routine procedure.
“Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime,” said Eugene McCray, the head of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.
“Those at higher risk should get tested at least annually,” he said.
“The key to controlling is helping those with HIV to control the virus,” said the CDC’s Jonathan Mermin, who focuses on preventing the spread of the HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and hepatitis.
“Time spent working closely with patients who are having trouble paying for, picking up or taking their daily medications is time well spent“