The right of people with HIV or AIDS to be ordained may be championed by AIDS activists and non-governmental organizations worldwide, but in Thailand, prospective monks are required to submit medical details including results from blood tests-and
that obstacle is keeping those who are HIV-positive out of the monkhood.
Chaokhun Metheedhammacharn, who monitors ordination at Wat
Suwannaram, said the Sangha Council issued tougher rules after
the murder of Joanne Masheder, a British backpacker who was
killed by a drug-addicted monk in the grounds of a temple in
Kanchanaburi. The council wanted people being ordained to be free
not only of AIDS or HIV but also TB, leprosy and elephantiasis.
"Loosening measures as we have in the past made temples a
shelter for criminals and wrongdoers trying to escape legal or
social punishments," the senior monk said. "It's not easy to
contract HIV, and it's not difficult either, especially for monks
who have to live together," he said. "They have to share things,
like clothes, spoons, and water glasses. New monks, in
particular, have to stay with others, and we're not sure if this
could cause transmission, but it's better to prevent it
beforehand." More than that, he said, monks shave their heads
regularly and HIV could be transmitted through razors.