Do you think AIDS is an incurable disease and leads to death? Do you think you will be infected by sharing daily life with them? Surprisingly, according to a survey we conducted, almost 80 percent of people answered ‘Yes’ even though it is totally wrong. Let’s look into the fact that we know in a wrong way by listening to some words from the president of the Korean Association for AIDS Prevention of Kyungnam branch.
Q: When and why was this organization found?
Song: The headquarters was founded in 1993 and Kyungnam branch was founded on August 27, 2001. The basic purpose of this establishment is the protection and eradication of AIDS. And we help the infected people from spreading this disease to others. We also advocate their rights. The attitude of “It’s your entire fault so you have to bare it” causes them to make drastic choices. In the past, there was a case that after someone with AIDS realized that he got it and thought he thought, “I can’t be the only one who has to live with it,” and kept spreading it to others. “Even though I made a wrong decision, it is kind of a tough life. I have to take the initiative of not contracting it to others.” This thought makes positive and active life. We help them to live this way. Not only the infectees, but also the families.
Q: What are those affected suffering from the most?
Song: Since we don’t know much about this disease and those infected, we think it is infected by daily life. For example, if you and I are sitting together in this room and I say that I have AIDS, you would feel uncomfortable. For example, when people hang out and drink together, we can say, “I’m sorry but I have high blood pressure, so I’d better refrain from drinking.” But AIDS stands for ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’ which means the loss of immunity and germs get into the body, it easily causes diseases. However, when others say, “Drink,” infectees cannot say, “I’m sorry but I have AIDS, so I can’t drink.” This is because when they say that, others will have a negative prejudice and perception which means they cannot share any daily life with people. They always have to remain as a minority.
Q: How can you help people with AIDS as a Non-profit organization and what areas leave you with much to be desired?
Song: A private organization isn’t a governmental organization. People think private organizations would speak for outcasts of society, so they can easily approach us. Due to the prejudice and discrimination against those with the disease, they cannot approach a health center and hospital. Even though the health center provides them with anonymity and a complimentary check-up, they do not visit the health center. We conducted an anonymity check-up which is VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) in this office. We found 94 people positive among 1006 people. Actually, in case of the health center, they have to test 150,000 people to find one infectee. Therefore, we have to consider accessibility but the government does not support the budget, so we are not doing it anymore. On the other hand, advanced countries such as Australia and Japan have been very invigorated. Since citizens pay more attention to AIDS, they pay supporting money and the government does so, too. People with AIDS visit the private organization and have regular checkups. Citizens also come to volunteer. We have to emulate them.
Q: Are there any words you want to say to our readers?
Song: Most importantly, you have to know that you become infected with AIDS by sharing blood or through sex. This is the most and the only thing that I want to tell you. Your change of perception will allow those with AIDS to live in a better world.
Seo Su-jin, editor-in-chief firstname.lastname@example.org
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