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
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.