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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
THAILAND: AIDS Hospice at Thai Buddhist Temple Adds Free

September 7, 2007
Associated Press (08.31.07) - Friday, September 07, 2007

Since 1992, thousands of Thais dying with AIDS have sought hospice care at the Buddhist temple Wat Phrabatnampo-Center of Hope in Lopburi, 70 miles north of Bangkok. On Aug. 31, the temple opened a free clinic to dispense antiretroviral drugs to treat the disease, project leaders said.

The new project will extend treatment and support to keep relatively healthy people with AIDS alive, according to a statement by the temple's Dramaraksa Foundation, the Lopburi provincial government and the California-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).

According to UN estimates, 330,000-920,000 of Thailand's 65 million people have HIV.

"The number of HIV patients has continued to rise and increase rapidly, and many people are in need of [antiretroviral] medicines and better treatment and care services," said Dr. Wichai Thaitaworn, director of the Dramaraksa Foundation. "We therefore must expand our services for HIV/AIDS patients and serve their needs more effectively." Thailand's government provides virtually free antiretroviral treatment for most people with AIDS, but the center's new project will also cover the cost of other medicine, Wichai said. The project is expected to have one physician, a nurse, and a pharmacist.

AHF President Michael Weinstein praised Thailand's leadership in its fight against HIV/AIDS, and he said he hopes this project is the first of many AHF will work on in the country. "It is my heartfelt wish that in addition to providing quality antiretroviral treatment and care services, these centers also contribute to a greater understanding of HIV/AIDS and help reduce the stigma that many of those living with the disease have encountered," Weinstein said.