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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Buddhism plays role in AIDS fight

(Xinhua)

09:33, November 21, 2011

KUNMING - "Chen Fen", a 43-year-old woman who has been fighting HIV for 16 years, projects an image of energy and vitality, despite being weakened by her affliction. The source of her strength isn't a new pill or medication, but an ancient religious belief.

"I simply practice what the Buddhist monks suggest: to keep a peaceful mentality and never make futile efforts to worry about the future," she says.

Chen lives in the Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan province. The province registered 83,925 HIV carriers and AIDS patients as of the end of last year, the most of any Chinese province or region.

In Xishuangbanna, more than 300,000 residents, most of whom belong to the Dai and Blang ethnic groups, believe in Theravada, a prevalent school of Buddhism. The prefecture has a total of 1,784 HIV/AIDS patients, and the number is expected to rise in coming years.

Chen and other HIV/AIDS patients in the region have benefited from a local program in which Buddhist monks have been mobilized to provide care for patients and promote knowledge of the disease in order to curb new infections.

The "Home of Buddha Glory" program was launched in 2003 with funding from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund and the assistance of the prefecture's Buddhist association.

Through the program, hundreds of HIV/AIDS patients, including both Buddhist believers and non-believers, regularly gather to listen to the preaching of monks and chat with each other at Zongfo Monastery, located in Xishuangbanna.

"The place really feels like a home," Chen says, adding that although she is not a believer, she has learned how to live a positive life from the monks.

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