This is an essay that received the first prize at a contest held at Father Muller's college on the occasion of 'World Aids Day'. It was penned by Stacy D’Souza - first year, MBBS- Batch 2014.
‘I was 9 years old when I found out my father was ill. It was 1994, but I can remember my mother’s words as if it were yesterday: “Kerrel, I don’t want you to take food from your father, because he has 'AIDS'. Be very careful when you are around him.”
AIDS wasn't something we talked about in Jamaica when I was growing up. What I knew about AIDS was this: - If you were HIV positive you were going to suffer and die. And you didn't expect anyone to treat you well, either.’ – Kerry McKay
HIV and AIDS are one of the blooming challenges we face as a country. Individuals, families and communities are badly affected by the epidemic. Families lose their breadwinners; young innocent ones are orphaned and deprived both of care and financial support. Many leave school and have no hope of a decent education or job. Women are often powerless to insist on safe sex and easily become the most vulnerable prey to the monster of AIDS.
But the thing to be noted here is- although AIDS has become so common, it still remains a silent struggle. People are ashamed to raise their voices and the victims are exposed to harsh prejudice born out of ignorance and fear.
The fight against AIDS, needs to mainly take place on two fronts- Prevention and Care. Prevention can be achieved through the strong tool of education. The social attitudes of people have to be given a new positive view. It’s time we bid goodbye to the senseless old taboos and grow thoughtful to the reality. Poverty alleviation and development can also limit spread of AIDS. To deal with the results of the disease, we should make sure that the victims are given proper care and support. And most importantly, care should never be outweighed by pure sympathy! The victims need love and expect a decent treatment in society. And they rightfully deserve it!
Summing up, here is a self-written pen down:-
‘Listen! My heart speaks,
To those who are afraid,
Loving me, a bare touch,
Will not give you AIDS.
I know what it feels like to live
With rejection and pain,
While seeing my loved ones walk away from me.
That’s definitely a strain!
Listen to my heart speak,
Please here me out
Let’s love each one and another
For I, like you
Might be here just for today...’
Ignorance and prejudice are fuelling the spread of a preventable disaster. It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but none should die of ignorance. Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
Dare to reach out your hand into darkness to pull another hand into the light. World AIDS Day, 1st December is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite as one and fight against HIV and AIDS. It’s up to you and me and us to open new doors of endless hope!
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