Today’s the World AIDS Day. It’s about ten or so years since we came to the realization about the science, social and culture impact of this disease.
I remember about Ryan White. A little boy who knew nothing about it and yet had it… he had to experience being ostracized in school. People, in these case parents, were so scared that their children could get AIDS if they played with Ryan. Elton John made a song just for him. Medical world had not yet reached rich understanding about this disease at that time. Ryan died.
Then… Magic Johnson shocked the world when he acknowledged that he’s positive with HIV. Due to his stardom he could reach out and made people more aware of this disease. Then, came Philadelphia, a movie about feeling, emotion, animosity, and kindness towards people with AIDS. As the result, more and more prominent figures conducted the fundraisings to support and finance the researches for cure of this disease.
I remember about an AIDS’ image and attitude research I did couple years ago in Indonesia. The research findings gave shocking yet understandable findings, among other things:
1. Many people believed that only gay people and prostitutes could get HIV/AIDS. [Housewives who got AIDS were unheard of.]
2. Many people didn’t know that one-time sexual contact (casual sex) with his/her friend or stranger, or multiple-usage of hypodermic needle to have drugs were some of fatal factors that invited HIV/AIDS into their lives. [In most cases doing drugs and having casual sex are typical channel to get/spread the disease.]
The research was conducted in several cities, including Jakarta, Denpasar, and Kupang. Kuta Beach was one of the centers for drugs orgy in Bali. Many people witnessed many hypodermic needles were found on the beach after some big parties. [Oh, man, after that I was so afraid to walk down the beach there without my sandals.]
Do you think that you only find this threat in big, urban cities? Think again. You’re wrong! At that time we found some cases in Kupang. How come? Young people there didn’t have anything to do after school… Then, there they went up to the hills on some nights to go ‘clubbing’ with friends. They brought their guitars, they sang until their lungs couldn’t take it anymore, and released their curious-but-uninformed libido. [Hmm… does community have any say on the shift of social gathering among their youth?]
Recently I was made aware about the spreading of this disease in conflict areas in Aceh and Papua.
I hope by now people are more informed and can make well-informed decision when they are facing this disease. We can’t ignore it; we just have to live with it.