Look at this young man, left to fight alone in this World. What do you think happen to him? I blame stigma. HIV stigma killed both his parents when he was 14. I feel sad every time I look at him.
HIV stigma, I am very angry at you! I will never forgive you. Of what you have done and continue to do to me and others.
Remember, whatever level of HIV education you have received, you are still at risk. Even those educated are still afraid of being judged: Many of us still do not want to be open about this terrible disease. When she was sick, my cousin’s answer was “I have got malaria”. That was her escape route.
Those not well educated yet, sometimes continue to uphold dangerous beliefs and practices. They think the disease can be ‘cured’, actually by putting other people at risk. They can make the problem bigger instead of solving it.
Sometimes I wish there would be a good peer education system. It helps the educated and non-educated to hear positive stories. It helps to understand, to share, and to change positively. I know the power of peers as I see it work here in the Netherlands.
I wish that there is no stigma. That in every corner of the world there a place where people meet and share. And where people can get access to their medication.
But the World is unfair, in many places in this World children still lose their parents. How can we end HIV/AIDS when people do not have access to education and treatment? As HIV stigmafighter, I dedicate my life to educate people. I empower people living with HIV, especially the Young Generation.
During World Aids Day we honor the dead by fighting for the living.
I will fight for those deprived of chances and a right to a healthy life.
My hope is that one day in the midst of the darkness that is stigma, light will persist.