Fri, 05 Dec 2003

'HIV/AIDS awareness campaign needed'

With HIV/AIDS emerging as an increasing threat, many still treat it as a personal problem, without realizing that the virus can infect anybody, whether they are living a lifestyle that exposes them to the infection or not. The lack of awareness causes the stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS. The Jakarta Post talked to several people about the issue.

Annie, 29, works at the Australian Embassy, South Jakarta. She lives with her parents in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta:

Although I'm not an expert on HIV/AIDS, I have more than basic knowledge about the virus. I know that it can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions or the use of contaminated syringes.

This knowledge is sufficient to prevent me from discriminating against people living with HIV/AIDS. I can get along with them because people cannot easily be infected by the virus.

What is needed to raise people's awareness on HIV/AIDS is to hold a campaign that involves religious leaders because, so far, the public have a perception that any campaign for the wider use of condoms is simply trying to justify extramarital sex.

Sinta, 23, works as a media relations officer at the General Elections Commission in Central Jakarta. She lives in a rented house in Pulo Mas, East Jakarta:

I know that AIDS is a lethal condition that occurs after someone has become infected with HIV. It takes several years before a person living with the virus can lose their immunity.

I know that the virus is transferred mainly through sexual intercourse and blood transfusions, but in this country most HIV/AIDS cases are related to the sharing of needles.

If someone I knew got HIV/AIDS, I would remain their friend. However, I would, of course, keep my distance if they started to bleed, got wounded or something like that. I wouldn't want to get infected, right?

--The Jakarta Post