AFP/MSN.com Examines Hospice for HIV-Positive People in Thailand
The Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu temple, a hospice for people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand, has provided care to more than 10,000 HIV-positive people out of the estimated 610,000 people living with the virus in the country, the AFP/MSN.com reports. People often come to the temple anonymously and without notice, according to AFP/MSN.com. The hospice was founded 17 years ago as a place to care for HIV/AIDS patients, many of whom face discrimination because of the high amount of stigma surrounding the disease. People can access some medical services, and the temple's principles are "steeped in its Buddhist faith," AFP/MSN.com reports.
One Indian nurse and one Cambodian doctor -- who is not permitted to prescribe medicines -- care for 120 residents and 300 non-resident patients. In emergency cases, patients are sent to a nearby hospital to receive antiretroviral treatment. The temple's clinic workers attempted to hire more doctors by appealing to nearby hospitals and the health department, but they had no applicants. Ching Thangsing, the nurse who works at the clinic, said, "I think [doctors] are afraid of HIV, they don't want to work with HIV-positive patients." The temple aims to combat the stigma surrounding the disease by welcoming school groups to its museums and monuments, as well as to a shrine that contains the ashes of 10,000 former residents. Japanese volunteer Katsumi Suzuki said, "This is a very unique place. It crosses the area between Buddhism and medicine" (Truscott, AFP/MSN.com, 2/28).