Many Saturdays ago (actually, just 2), I was invited to a Nuffnang event for "Open Your Heart" – an AIDS awareness for the Youth . The showcase was primarily to bring awareness to the people all around that the AIDS victims do need care and concern just like any other person, sick or otherwise. It is a sad truth that people who do not belong to the norm get ostracised; and if normal people are already discriminated by their race, language and religions, the stigma that AIDS victims face is unimaginable.

It’s thus not unusual for AIDS victims to keep to themselves of their status in order to preserve whatever sanity they have left. Exposure of their condition will usually not just create a risk of rejection from the society, but from their friends, colleagues and possibly immediate family members. As the discussion of AIDS is such a taboo topic amongst family members and friends, understanding of AIDS becomes limited within the society.

Within understanding of AIDS – the transmission and the prognosis of the disease, it’s difficult for people to accept AIDS victims into the society. For instance – will you avoid a person who fell down and had some scratches? Will you avoid a person who lost his limps in an accident? Or perhaps something closer – will you avoid someone who caught… the common flu? Well, you might, but you understand how it can be spread and live in the comfort that even if you do catch the flu virus, you will just fall sick for a couple of days and then recover. You understand the consequences of getting flu… how it’s transmitted… and how bad it can get.

However, for AIDS, it’s almost an entirely different story. Most people do not understand how it can spread and thus may end up avoiding the AIDS victim like the plague. Some may even have fear sitting just next to them – fear that the virus would just jump and hop onto them and infecting them; but this is not true. AIDS can only be spread through direct blood contact where the HIV can "migrate" from one person to another. Think of blood as their rocket shuttle from the Earth to the Moon – that’s how HIV is being transmitted.

Perhaps there is not enough knowledge… perhaps there’s not enough publicity. However, you can make a difference. Just keep your mind and your hearts open. You’d never know when your friend may be an AIDS victim.

Why do you see me through tinted glasses?
It breaks my heart into a million pieces.
The day I knew I was positive,
all people around me turned negative.

Some of you think that I deserve it,
and so in your society I no longer fit.
But just like you I did not know,
so now my tears abundantly flow.

I had faith in my partner,
that he loved me and none other.
But the truth was revealed;
that one mistake and my fate’s been sealed.

Please don’t look at me through tinted glasses,
support me as I pick up my life’s broken pieces.

Anonymous

Yes, now that I have finished ranting about the stigmatisation of AIDS victims, I can talk about the event itself. Nuffnang and HPB has kindly arranged for this session for us to understand more about how the AIDS victim feel and what the avenues are for them. Although the emphasis is that they can still lead a normal, prolonged life, the truth is that the medication available for it is usually costly and not many can afford it. This session also provided an opportunity for many of us to experience how it is like to be stigmatised and left out of company through an interaction game that HPB has kindly arranged for the bloggers.

Overall, the experience was good (comes with good food too) and I hope all bloggers got the take home message that we should all keep our hearts and minds open to AIDS victims.



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