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Two Foundations partner open free AIDS treatment

Pattaya Daily News, Aug 31, 2007

Lob Buri, Thailand -- The Dramaraksa Foundation and AIDS Healthcare Foundation now partner to open Free AIDS Treatment Center providing lifesaving Antiretroviral Treatment at famed Thai AIDS temple in Thailand’s Lob Buri province, where thousands received compassionate hospice care before dying.

<< 'Wat Phrabatnampo-Center of Hope' is located on the grounds of Wat Phrabatnampo - Thailand's world-renowned AIDS temple

At 'Wat Phrabatnampo-Center of Hope' in Lob Buri province, Thailand, opens a Formal Ceremony Friday, August 31st at 9:30 am. In an innovative collaboration that will provide free HIV AIDS care -- including lifes aving anti-retroviral treatment (ART) -- to people living with advanced AIDS in Lop Buri Province, the Provincial Government, Lop Buri Province; the Dramaraksa Foundation-Wat Phrabatnampo; and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will open their first free AIDS treatment clinic in Lop Buri, Thailand with a formal dedication ceremony on Friday, August 31st at 9:30 am (Wat Phrabatnampo, 75 miles north of Bangkok).

The clinic, which will be known as the 'Wat Phrabatnampo-Center of Hope' is located on the grounds of Wat Phrabatnampo -- Thailand's world-renowned AIDS temple ill offer new hope for those living with the disease through the care and free antiretroviral treatment that will be provided at the center.

"It is a great privilege for AIDS Healthcare Foundation to partner in the Kingdom of Thailand with the Provincial Government in Lop Buri and the Dramaraksa Foundation to open this first 'Center of Hope.' Over the next five years, AHF's Asia Pacific Bureau in close collaboration with the Provincial Health Department and the Dramaraksa Foundation will provide antiretroviral treatment, medical care and support services at the centers extending life and bringing hope for people living with HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Chinkholal Thangsing, Asia/Pacific Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

"I would like to offer thanks not only to our partners, but also to Wora Booncherd, President of the Kasetsart University Alumni Association, USA and the Board of Directors and Oraphan Boonthong in Bangkok, for first introducing us to the Wat Phrabatnampo-Dramaraksa Foundation Hospice Care program, and for educating us as to the tremendous need for such treatment and compassionate care and support for people living with HIV AIDS in Thailand."

"It is my honor to be here for the grand opening of the "Center of Hope" clinic under tripartite collaboration between the Lop Buri Provincial Government, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Dramaraksa Foundation -- Wat Phrabatnampo," said Mr. Suwat Tantipat, Lop Buri Provincial Governor.

"I feel pleased for Lop Buri people and HIV patients, as this project gives hope and supports the HIV patients just like its name, 'Center of Hope.' We need both knowledge and understanding in order to support HIV patients. I believe this project will give a better life quality to HIV patients and let them live a normal life once again. I, on behalf of Lop Buri Provincial Government, promise that if there is anything the Lop Buri Provincial Government could help with, we would help with our full strength immediately."

"This is a very good time for us to be here together for the grand opening of the ART 'Center of Hope,' The number of HIV patients has continued to rise and increase rapidly, and many people are in need of ARV medicines and better treatment and care services. We therefore must expand our services for HIV AIDS patients and serve their needs more effectively," said Dr. Wichai Thaitaworn, Director of the Dramaraksa Foundation."

"Thailand is an excellent example of what could be achieved in the fight against HIV/AIDS when given the necessary support," said Henry E. Chang, Chief of Global Affairs, AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Today's action by AHF and its partners marks another important step toward expanding access to quality HIV/AIDS treatment and care services as well as combating the harsh stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV AIDS in Thailand."

"Thailand has long been recognized as a leader in the worldwide fight against AIDS, and we are honored to be able to bring AHF's clinical experience and expertise to join Thailand in this battle to help save the lives of its people," said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's President.

"It is my wish that this inaugural 'Center of Hope' treatment facility in Lop Buri-AHF's first treatment site in Thailand-will be the first of many in the partnership, and that it also serves as a beacon of hope for those in need of treatment. It is my heartfelt wish that in addition to providing quality ART 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."

Lop Buri Province

Lop Buri Province, one of the central provinces of Thailand, is located on the east side of the Chao Phraya River Valley, between the Lopburi River and Pa Sak Rivers. The province is subdivided into 11 districts. The districts are further subdivided into 124 sub-districts and 1110 villages. The province has a population of roughly 750,000.

HIV/AIDS in Thailand According to the website, http://www.avert.org, "There are very few developing countries in the world where public policy has been effective in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS on a national scale, but Thailand is an exception. A massive programme to control HIV has reduced visits to commercial sex workers by half, raised condom usage, decreased the prevalence of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) dramatically, and achieved substantial reductions in new HIV infections. Its well funded, politically supported and comprehensive prevention programmes have saved millions of lives, reducing the number of new HIV infections from 143,000 in 1991 to 19,000 in 2003.

Nonetheless, more than 1-in-100 adults today in this country of 65 million people are infected with HIV, and AIDS has become a leading cause of death."



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