By: Lacy Carter & Chloe Withers
Before coming on the Mayterm Thailand trip Lacy and I wrote a blog post on HIV/AIDS in Thailand so we felt well prepared for our visit to the HIV/AIDS Hospice. Little did we know what an emotional impact it would have on the both of us. Thailand is known as the “land of smiles” and the hospice was no exception. When we first walked into the treatment room all of the patients were so welcoming. It was incredible to see that even though these people were in pain and didn’t feel good, they could still manage to have a positive outlook on life. Everyone was so willing to share their stories with us.
One patient we talked to in particular was named Pon. He really had an impact on both of us. While talking with him we learned that he had been at the hospice for four years. His family had abandoned him once he started seeking treatment for his illness eight years earlier. This broke our hearts because we could not imagine our families turning their backs on us in the same situation. The stigma in Thailand surrounding HIV/AIDS is still a huge problem. Pon stood out to us because of his incredible talent for drawing portraits. He showed us some of the portraits he had done of donors who visited the hospice in the past. Unfortunately he can no longer draw after becoming partially blind due to Diabetes.
The Hospice is an amazing place that is helping Thailand view HIV/AIDS in a new acceptable way. Their goal is to minimize stigma and to have zero new cases of HIV. They are trying to adress this main goal by prevent mother to child transmission during birth. The hospice offers a sanctuary for HIV/AIDS infected people who have no where left to turn by offer housing for patients seeking treatment as well as their families. All medications and treatments provided by the hospice are available thanks to government funding. We feel that more countries should provide these same amenities to all people living with HIV/AIDS at little to no cost as well as increasing knowledge of the disease. The main thing we both took away from our experience at the hospice is that the patients there are no different than anyone else. They deserve the same respect and care as any other human being so it is our responsibility as global citizens to make sure that happens for anyone living with HIV/AIDS.