Ottawa Citizen (01.02.08) - Thursday, January 03, 2008
Acupuncture is not a part of traditional medicine in Thailand.
However, since 2004, Vancouver naturopathic doctor Laura Louie
has employed acupuncture and massage to help HIV/AIDS patients
at the Mae On Clinic cope with the pain, fatigue, numbness,
loss of appetite, and insomnia caused by the disease and side
effects of antiretroviral therapy.
While on a short trip to Thailand in 2002, Louie first
observed Mae On Clinic personnel working with HIV patients and
volunteered to help. It took some convincing and
demonstrations of acupuncture before she received the hospital
director's approval to begin the free HIV-acupuncture clinic
outside the government-run hospital.
Louie went back to Vancouver to raise funds from family and
friends for the project and returned with $30,000 (US $30,262)
to found the clinic, she said. The money helped buy desks,
filing cabinets, hot water bottles, needles, and other, clinic
supplies, and it paid for a Thai-speaking doctor to help her
train the five nurses who volunteered to learn acupuncture.
Louie visits the clinic three times a year for six to twelve
Since local nurses now know acupuncture well enough, Louie
said she effectively "worked my way out of a job." From
Vancouver, Louie helps finance the clinic through the not-for-
profit Laura Louie Foundation. Operating the clinic takes
about $6 (US $6.06) a month per patient, plus a $3,000 (US
$3,030) per year honorarium for each of the nurses, who work
there one day a week.
In small surveys taken at the clinic, 96 percent of patients
said they experienced physical improvements from the
acupuncture, and 86 percent said their quality of life has