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Being AIDS aware

HIV/AIDS is a global pandemic affecting millions of lives every day. Each year, the infection rate of HIV grows exponentially, especially in underdeveloped and developing nations. In Malaysia, 13 persons get infected daily. To date, 87,000 Malaysians have developed AIDS, of which 13,000 have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing Malaysia is lack of awareness about the disease, resulting in high-risk behaviour, stigma and discrimination.

In conjunction with International AIDS Memorial Day 2010, which falls on 16 May, PT Foundation with support from Ruumz Causes presents AIDSAware – Be The Message AIDSAware is a project to raise public awareness about various issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, especially the importance of safer sex.

The project aims to collect 13,000 messages on HIV/AIDS issues, one to remember each person in Malaysia who has passed away from AIDS-related illnesses over the past 20 years.

Members of the public are invited to submit photos of themselves with these messages. These will be featured on Ruumz Causes, and a selection will be exhibited at The Annexe Gallery in Central Market, Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition opens on Friday, 14 May 2010, at 8pm for invited guests and media, and continues for the general public from 11am to 8pm on Saturday, 15 May, and Sunday, 16 May.

Stop the stigma

Kevin Baker, a consultant to PT Foundation, tells The Nut Graph that the one of the biggest problems about HIV infection is people’s hesitation to come forward for treatment and care.

“They often feel too scared to admit the need for a HIV test,” he tells The Nut Graph in an e-mail interview on 12 May.

“Our message must be that everyone has the right to know about HIV, to know their status, to be able to protect themselves, and to have access to treatment if they need it.”

He adds: “There is always more that can be done to stop the stigma and discrimination, [including] among medical practitioners. I heard of a case where one young man [who is HIV-positive] was treated completely differently by doctors [at a local hospital] because of his status. How sad to hear this is happening in 2010, and [it] shows the need for further education and sensitisation of these staff.

“The [global] theme this year for International AIDS Memorial Day is Many Lights for Human Rights, again reflecting the need for us all to take responsibility for HIV. The campaign is a great way for us all to show the world what HIV means to us.”

There will also be a memorial service for those who have died of AIDS-related illnesses, held at PT Foundation on Jalan Ipoh Kecil in Kuala Lumpur, from 10:30am to 2pm on Saturday, 15 May. This will include an interfaith prayer session and discussion on issues surrounding HIV and AIDS.

For more information on AIDSAware and corresponding events, contact PT Foundation.

In addition, The Annexe Gallery will be screening And The Band Played On, a film based on the journalism of Randy Shilts, whose writings drew global attention to the AIDS crisis from the perspective of gay men. The screening will be held on 16 May at 3pm. More info here, or e-mail [email protected].

All pics above are courtesy of PT Foundation and

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