Aids day in Central brings understanding to disease

Thousands gather in Central to promote reality of living with Aids and to fight discrimination

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 April, 2013, 5:06am

Over 2,000 people from more than 30 organisations stood in the pouring rain to promote Aids prevention and anti-discrimination in Central yesterday.

The 10th Aids Festival, organised by the St John's Cathedral HIV Education Centre, was a day-long outdoor event attended by local and international schools, Aids-specific organisations and ethnic groups.

Magic shows and cultural presentations by the groups were part of the festivities to raise awareness about the disease.

Joey Bugo, 46, who is HIV-positive, contracted the disease about 22 years ago. He said Aids was an incurable disease, but not a terminal condition.

"Aids is not a terminal disease. Although it cannot be cured, it can be treated and people can live to over 70 years old," he said.

Bugo, a volunteer at the Aids Foundation, he encouraged people to show more care and support to those who are HIV-positive.

Carmen Leung Ka-man, an English teacher at Choi Cheung Kok Secondary School, where half the students were from the ethnic minorities, said the school was educating its pupils about the disease.

"The government is not doing enough to promote sex education to ethnic minorities, as most of its workshops are only in Chinese," said Leung.

One of her Nepalese students Chris Rana, 15, who was interviewing people about their perceptions of Aids for a project, had a good understanding of the disease.

"People who have Aids are just like us but they are infected with the incurable disease," he said. "If we discriminate against them and refuse to make friends with them, we will have a lot of social problems."

Devi Novianti, corporate communications officer of the Equal Opportunities Commission, was also there to promote the message that HIV-positive people are protected by the Disability Discrimination Ordinance in Hong Kong.

"It is unlawful [for employers] to discriminate by not hiring them, giving them different treatment during employment and dismissing them without justifiable reasons," she said.

Between 1984 and 2012, there were 5,783 reported HIV infections in Hong Kong. Last year saw a 30-year high of 513 new cases.