The Sarawak AIDS Concern Society (SACS) said it will step up its campaign to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS and educate the public on the importance of screening.
It said the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can only be mitigated if the society casts aside condescending views on the key affected population.
Hence, it is important to reduce and eliminate stigma and discrimination faced by those living with HIV/AIDS, it said in a statement today.
“This is so that we can continue to screen them or any individuals who are at risk, and refer those who are tested positive for treatment as soon as possible,” it said, adding that stigma and discrimination had compounded its efforts to help those who need care and support.
“Due to the negative views of the public, many of the PLHIV (people living with HIV) self-stigmatise and as a result, some have doubts in their self-worth. Some are even afraid to seek treatment.”
SACS said studies and data have shown that those affected are able to live like any other individuals as long as they adhere to the treatment antiretroviral treatment regime prescribed by doctors.
Currently, it said, it has two teams serving the community, with one reaching out to those from the key affected population or high-risk group, and the other providing care and support for people living with HIV.
“Our personnel conduct outreach work to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and STIs while offering free community-based testing for HIV and syphilis. They also link up to clients through social media,” it said.
The society also has a care and support team at Malaysian AIDS Foundation’s Teratak Kasih Tok Nan, which manages a halfway house for PLHIV clients from within and outside Kuching who need a place to stay when doing their follow-up treatment at Sarawak General Hospital.
The halfway house also provides food, transportation subsidy and a monthly peer-support programme.
SACS volunteers and staff also conduct HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns for the public and at institutions of higher learning and provide free voluntary testing for HIV. - FMT