Fruit carving, a meticulous art in Thailand

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Thai girls carve floral patterns into fruits during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A Thai girl carves floral patterns into a papaya during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A Thai man helps put together an elaborate decoration display with carved fruits and vegetables during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A Thai boy carves floral patterns into a watermelon during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A carved pumpkin is displayed during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
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A Thai woman carves a vegetable into the form of a rose during a fruit and vegetable carving competition in Bangkok on August 4, 2017. It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand's fruit carvers are determined to keep alive -- even as young people peel away from the unique art form. / AFP / Roberto SCHMIDT
Updated 05 August 2017
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Fruit carving, a meticulous art in Thailand

BANGKOK: It is a royal tradition that has proved bountiful through the ages and one that Thailand’s fruit carvers are determined to keep alive — even as young people peel away from the unique art form.
From beetroots carved into roses to fruity floats made from papayas and melons, the most important fruit carving competition in Thailand took place in Bangkok Friday.
But for competitor Piyanat Thiwato, carving is about more than just winning.
“Carving can improve our mind because it requires concentration and enhances our imagination, it’s a way to relax,” he said.
The tradition has been traced back to Thailand’s royal Sukhothai dynasty, in the 14th century.
“The art of food carving started hundreds years ago. Thailand is rich with arts and crafts. It’s like a very beautiful treasure that we have,” said Araya Arunanondchai, the event’s organizer.
“In the old days, it was done in the royal palaces for the royal family,” she added.
Dozens of Thai artists competed in the famous fruit and vegetable carving competition, which was organized in honor of Queen Sirikit, who turns 85 on August 12.
More than 20 teams carved anything from owls to elephants or intricate Thai designs onto fruits including taros, melons, and papaya.
Fruit carving is still popular as an offering in temples or as a decoration for weddings. Fine arts students can still choose to learn it at university, as they would take painting lessons. But the tradition is fading away.
“Not so many young people are interested in it or the ones who studied it in art schools cannot make a living out of it,” Manirat Svastiwat na Ayutthaya, food carving expert said.


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“