|The Monastery of AIDS|
A Buddhist temple in Thailand serves thousands of HIV patients abandoned by their families. The Phra Bat Nam Pu monastery, located in Lopburi province, today takes care of more than 1,500 men, women, children and orphans. Over 10.000 patients have perished at these facilities since they began helping infected people in 1983.
In Thailand 440,000 people out of a population of 67 million live with HIV, according to the latest UNAIDS report on the state of the epidemic in the world; and there are many carriers of this virus who fear getting tested to see if they are infected due to society’s stigmatization towards the sick ones.
Most families that lead their beloved ones never return to the monastery over to visit them, even after death. New patients have to mark, at their arrival, in a form what to do with their bodies when they die because families normally don’t come to pick them up. Among the options in the form, they can chose to be mummified for display in a room a few meters from the clinic. This decision was taken by the victims themselves in life to raise awareness about HIV lethality.
Behind the altar of a Buddha statue, there are sachets containing the ashes of patients who failed to beat the disease.
Text by Ana Salvá
|Place||: Lopburi, Thailand.|
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