Thailand's growing AIDS epidemic has reached hundreds of thousands as the government tries to secure assistance. The NewsHour reports on AIDS in the Asian country and the efforts to reduce the disease and its stigma.
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FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour Correspondent:
Thailand's Prabhat Namphu Buddhist monastery is an unlikely combination of AIDS hospice and tourist attraction. Amid displays of cadavers, visitors, including many school kids, observe what HIV does to the human body, in death and in life's final stages.
Beyond hospice care, the temple's goal is to educate the public, says Phra Alongkot, the founding abbot.
PHRA ALONGKOT DIKKAPANYO, Abbot, Prabhat Namphu Monastery:
I hope that this year maybe more than 300,000 people come to our temple. That is the chance for our temple can give the knowledge for our people.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO:
When we visited in 2002, dozens were dying each month, abandoned as they were in life by families who never bothered to collect their remains. But it was in 2002 that Thailand began to make available the once prohibitively expensive antiretroviral, or ARV drugs, for AIDS. That's made a huge difference, says Michael Bassano, an American Catholic priest who volunteers here.
REV. MICHAEL BASSANO, Volunteer:
It has changed the whole understanding of the place. I would say it's the temple of life. We call it the hospice, but it's the temple of life. People come here with HIV, and they sense that here they find family, acceptance, nourishment, and a willingness to keep living. And that changes the whole reality here. It is not just a place for people in their last days.