Ministry Helps Thailand's HIV/AIDS Victims

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BANKOK, Thailand - Pakdee Kanpanya was pregnant with her first child when she found out she was infected with HIV/AIDS. Sshe contracted the virus from her husband, a drug addict who was infected through a needle.

"I wanted to kill my husband and then kill myself," she recalled. "In those days HIV was not accepted. People stared at me as if I was a loose woman who slept with everybody, and I was concerned for my child. The doctor said she may get infected."

Pakdee said her husband convinced her to just accept their fate.

"He said 'why should we kill ourselves? You're strong. I will stay with you and be responsible for the baby. Everybody has to die someday anyway so just let it be,'" she said.

At her lowest moment, a friend brought Kanpanya to Siam Care Foundation to seek help. Siam Care is a Christian organization that ministers to HIV affected people and their families.

Director Adrienne Lomborg shared how the ministry helps the women face their battle against HIV/AIDS.

"One is the care where we we work with infected families already, where we look at the whole person," she said. "Not just the physical or emotional, but it's integrated into who we are spiritually."

"The other is prevention," Lomborg added. "We run groups in villages, slum areas, schools where we teach about HIV."

It also teaches women that they deserve respect and kindness from their husbands.

"Thai women in general are very accepting and forgiving, but I think it is a cover up for fatalism," Lomborg said. "In the culture, it's fatalistic in many points. What I want is for women to really realize that they are special."

"They are created in God's image," she continued. "He has a plan for their lives. It's a good plan not a plan of sickness and being downtrodden."

Pakdee is among the 700,000 officially recorded people in Thailand living with HIV/AIDS. The national HIV prevalence is 1.4 percent, according to the U.N. is high.

Over the past year, the rate of infection among teenagers increased from 11 to 17 percent.

"The youth has become more promiscuous," Lomborg explained. "Thai teenagers are sexually active at the age of 14."

Pakdee still lives with her husband and now has four children. Amazingly, none of her children are positive with HIV/AIDS. Pakdee believes that only God can miraculously spare her four children from contracting the disease.

That's why she brings them to the Siam Care Center regularly for them to know more about God.

It's been 13 years since Pakdee has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Her future may be uncertain, but with her new found faith, she has decided to live life to the fullest.

"The people in Siam Care helped me walk the right path," Kanpanya said. "I called out to God and God gave me new life to be with my children and the strength to fight and live this new life."

*Original Broadcast Date: October 16, 2009.

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Lucille Talusan

Lucille Talusan

CBN News Asia Correspondent

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