Thursday, December 02, 2004

World AIDS Day

Support World AIDS Day

I was suppose to post this yesterday until my blogspot account froze on me. December 1st is world's AIDS Day.

30 years on and AIDS is still around and has multiplied into an epidemic beyond beliefs. Till today as well the stigma of having AIDS looms about many of us and to our own prejudices and horrors we would rather disassociate ourselves from people who has the disease. I have not met many people with AIDS so I shall not be self righteous and proclaim to be holier than thou. My only experience with the disease was a short 3 day seminar organised by the Federation of Family Planning Association of Malaysia (FFPAM) when I was form 4.

Besides lecturing on the cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and their prevention, one of the activities we got planned was a talk by Kak Kartini Slemeh, a transvestite advocate and sex worker advocate who sets out to relay her story and how transgender groups have been misunderstood and at times mistreated by society for being different. She is now an advocate for AIDS and in conjunction with Pink Triangle, sets to change people's mindset of the other side of society. One of the tours was a visit to a clinic near Chow Kit road that offers free consultation for people who seek it, safe sexual practice advice, a shelter for single mothers, free clinical advice and treatment for AIDS sufferer. Talking to a few of the patients there taught me much and scared me at the same time. It is so easy to say that these people are being punished for some sin they commited or that they deserved it, yet standing in the same room you can't help but feel and understand that they still had their humanity and dignity. It's not easy to condemn a living person with a face facing you that may otherwise mirror yourself. Too many have died or are dying from the disease and there may seem no end in sight for a cure to date. For many sufferers, they don't want your pity, they just want to be treated as normal human beings. Think about that.

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