Temple in Thailand Providing HIV/AIDS Services Becomes Overcrowded as People Live Longer With Disease
A temple in Thailand that offers medical care and shelter for HIV-positive people is becoming "overcrowded by the living," as antiretroviral drugs provided by the government are enabling people to live longer with the disease, the International Herald Tribune reports. More than 500 HIV-positive people live on the grounds of the Wat Phrabat Nampu temple in Thailand's Lop Buri province and in a village annex, and 33 patients are being treated in the shelter's intensive care unit. According to Alongkot Dikkapanyo, the abbot of the temple, 90% of HIV-positive people who come to the shelter survive. But nine out of 10 of those cannot return home or find new homes because of discrimination and stigma associated with the disease. Although Thailand has become an "international leader" in its HIV prevention programs, the country has made "little headway in easing a harsh stigma" associated with HIV/AIDS, according to the Tribune. The shelter, which Alongkot founded 14 years ago, and its satellite village have become a "new sort of leper village," the Tribune reports. Visitors who come to the temple to worship, as well as vendors who sell food and souvenirs on the temple grounds, often shun the people living with the disease at the shelter and refuse to go near them, the Tribune reports. As the number of new HIV cases increase in Thailand -- in part because of a "loss of a sense of urgency that has caused a slackening of prevention campaigns" -- the country now needs to undertake two campaigns, the Tribune reports. One campaign should focus on re-educating the public about the disease, and a second should "reassure" the public that people living with HIV are not "dangerous," according to the Tribune (Mydans, International Herald Tribune, 10/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.