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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
THAILAND: Canadian Doctor Brings Touch of Chinese Healing to
Aileen McCabe, CanWest News Service
January 3, 2008
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 weeks.

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 improved.