It's a Matter of Faith

John Stanmeyer for TIME.

AIDS patients from all over Thailand wait for hours to receive a free supply of V-1 Immunitor, the supposed miracle cure for the deadly virus.

In a country where people routinely have their wallets blessed by Buddhist monks before the weekly lottery, belief in the long shot runs deep. The newspapers are rife with stories of benevolent ghosts who solve financial and familial problems. And last April, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was duped into thinking he could wipe out the national debt by unearthing lost World War II treasure in a muddy cave near the Burmese border. So who can blame Thailand's 700,000 AIDS patients for putting their faith in such cures as bitter melon extract (at one point certified by government officials), magic herbs and...

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