Wednesday, December 01, 2004

World AIDS Day

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:

  • Many people believed that only gay people and prostitutes could get HIV/AIDS. [Housewives who got AIDS were unheard of.]
  • 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.


avianto said...

Talking about your first point about the housewives. Well, do you think the (Indonesian) housewives will admit that they have AIDS? Don't think so.

Like the term "curious-but-uninformed libido"... but sex is not exactly categorize as need-to-know information in Indonesia (well, not just Indonesia I guess... but you know what I mean), right?

Bebeth said...

On your first comment: yes, it was unheard of when we conducted the study. But, nowadays more and more housewives are willing to come forward to ask for help and share their experience --> educate the public. People have to understand that HIV/AIDS can happen to anyone even to the one who has exclusive sex; they're prone to this disease too; and could eventually become an "innocent" victim.

On your second comment: yes, again :) However, I got my first sex education at school when I was in my 6th grade. Then again when I was in Junior and Senior High School. Well, I know many schools don't provide this kind of information to their students... what a pity *Sigh* I think it's still a taboo to talk about it openly in a 'mature' manner. Understandably, people don't know how to react when they face controversy, especially when the controversy is sex-moral-religion.

The other alternative, I think, is to educate parents :) So, they know how to talk about it to their children.