AIDS awarenessPosted: May 10, 2008
It is discrimination that kills them, not AIDS. This was the message repeatedly emphasised at the International Aids Memorial Day held recently in Bandar Puchong Jaya, which was jointly organised by Youth With A Mission Malaysia (YWAM), Malaysian Aids Council and Bayan Hill Homes Committee. Themed Never Give Up, Never Forget, the event was made more meaningful by the presence of some HIV carriers, who shared their stories on being abandoned by the society and how they made their way to the right path.
One of them was pastor Isaac Lee, who was a drug addict for more than 20 years. “Many would say, ‘Thank God I don’t have this illness’, but for me, it’s ‘Thank God I have this illness’,” he said. “Because of this disease, I met people who were truly concerned about me and I experienced God’s love for me. I found the highest point in my life,” he said. During the event, a simple yet solemn candle-lighting ceremony was held to honour those died of AIDS.
“In Malaysia, there are 78,860 HIV carriers, and about half of them are aged between 19 and 35,” he said.
Full article here.
I think generally, AIDS and HIV carriers were always looked at with “coloured glasses”. Meaning that there’s always some sort of prejudice, some sort of mentality that “they deserve it, they brought it upon themselves anyway, who asked them to do drugs/sleep around?”
Here in New Zealand, there are so many buses that help create an awareness of HIV and AIDS, and these messages help to correct, in a way, the perspective of us people towards those who have contracted HIV.
“XXX contracted HIV from unprotected sex…. with her husband”
“AAA contracted HIV from a needle…. at her nursing grounds”
It’s things like these that get lost somewhere in the message. So many people think that AIDS and HIV only go to people who do drugs, who sleep around, who aren’t careful, who sleep in slums. It’s prejudice.
I’m not saying I’m holier-than-thou, and that I have absolutely NO prejudice. I never think that anyone DESERVES to get AIDS, but sometimes, they really did bring it upon themselves, no?
But why do we all think this way? Why aren’t we more aware of how exactly HIV can be contracted? How it can be spread?
No matter what these people have or have not done, they don’t deserve to be alienated by us. And this is where awareness programmes come in. We as a whole do not know enough about AIDS as it is, and this is what contributes to our fear of these people. This is what contributes to our unwillingness to accept them as part of our society. This is what contributes to their pain and suffering.
Programmes like the one mentioned above don’t get enough coverage. They don’t get mentioned at all prior to the event. People don’t know about it. Even if we want to be made more aware of HIV and AIDS, we don’t know where to go. And the media is not making it any easier for us by not publicising the event before it happened.
We have been talking for so long now about freeing the press, and how the Sedition Act, OSA and PPPA are literal shackles on our journalists. But surely politics is not what journalism is all about. Things like creating awareness in society need the media to help in publicity. I’m sure reporting on the event would have had nothing to do with the Sedition Act and OSA and PPPA. The government couldn’t care less about what the journalists write about as long as it’s not something bad about them.
So other than fighting for their freedom to write and print information that is currently not allowed, they still have a job to do. They need to fulfill their duties of being the voice of the more neglected part of society.