Experience HIV 'first hand' at Crossroads event

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 November, 2012, 10:41am

I knew I had to talk to Alexandra, my 14-year-old daughter, about HIV/Aids, but had been putting it off, not knowing how to explain the issues correctly.

Crossroad's Aids X-perience is a simulation of real-life situations that help others "step into the shoes" of those affected by HIV/Aids.

Alexandra "walked" through the lives of several people who have come into contact with HIV/Aids and, at the end, are "tested" to see if they are positive for the disease.

The storylines reflect the main routes of HIV transmission: sexual contact, exposure to contaminated blood and from mother to infant. The stories were narrated through headphones as Alexandra moved from room to room, each realistically decorated. There is a choice of four experiences, such as a Hong Kong student whose lifestyle choices put him at risk and an Eastern European mother whose blood transfusion may have infected her.

"The goal is to educate and generate empathy with a new level of personal involvement," says Kate Falconer, Crossroads' public relations and development director.

Alexandra found the part where she had to wait for the results of the person's HIV test in a clinic particularly moving. Questions such as, "How will people treat me now?" are easy to imagine after sharing the person's story. The disease still carries prejudice and rejection - psychosocial issues Alexandra said were easier to understand after the experience.

Although the programme is for those aged 14 and above, some experiences - like the trafficking of young women who contract the illness - are harrowing.

Verdict: an eye-opener. Alexandra already had information about HIV/Aids from school, but said "it was much better than reading about it. I felt an emotional connection to the people."

Crossroads' Global Village,

2 Castle Peak Rd, Tuen Mun

Tel: 2984 9309