Taiwan youths mark World AIDS Day

100 people raise their hands for HIV prevention

  719

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – About a hundred young Taiwanese raised their hands and lit up lights in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to call for an end to prejudice and discrimination on the eve of World AIDS Day Wednesday.

The action formed part of the campaign “Hands up for #HIVprevention” launched by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day has been marked on December 1 since 1998.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Centers for Disease Control responded to the UN organization’s call by gathering about 100 young people on Liberty Square Wednesday evening. They lined up in the shape of a giant red ribbon, the symbol of solidarity with HIV patients, and raised their hands holding red light sticks.

In his address to the crowd, CDC Director General Chou Jih-haw said the largest obstacle in the way of AIDS prevention was social prejudice, which isolated patients and stopped them from stepping forward to receive medical treatment. Waiting too long to seek medical assistance might lead to dangerous situations ending in unnecessary tragedy, Chou said.

He pleaded for a many-sided approach to AIDS, combining sex education, prevention, safe sex practices, the removal of discrimination, testing and providing medicine.

According to CDC statistics, the total number of AIDS sufferers in Taiwan rose by 1,991 this year until the end of October to reach a total of more than 33,000.

Data collected in Taiwan last year showed that 70 percent of patients were between the ages of 15 and 34, with unsafe sex being responsible for 89 percent of the infections.

The CDC was following international practice by supplying home testing kits and daily administration of medicine, reports said.

The ultimate aim of all campaigns should be “zero infections, zero deaths, zero discrimination,” according to Chou.