| Message by Iswandy Ahmad, President of Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council |
“ALTHOUGH the efforts of professionals and volunteers alike in the areas of HIV/AIDS advocacy, treatment and education are commendable, we are at risk of achieving ‘AIDS?fatigue’.
“This is a situation where societies have become desensitised to the response to HIV after continuously receiving messages about HIV and AIDS over a long period of time. For almost three decades, the global community has made many strides to tackle the epidemic through medical advancement and social sensitisation.
“Prevention of HIV is now possible and people living with HIV can live longer and support system to tackle the HIV gets better. Despite these advancements, we continue to hear that there are new infections; we continue to hear of family members lost due to AIDS; and we continue to hear of people living with HIV or those that are at risk of developing HIV being discriminated against.
“We reiterate our call for members of society to take action by educating, and not discriminating, continuing research, taking preventive measures and by showing love and care. Only by doing so we can reduce and control the number of new HIV infections. Although there is treatment available, there is still no cure for HIV infection and it can still cause death. Early diagnosis should allow a person who has been recently infected with HIV to be given treatment early and ensure a near normal life span.
“Not only will early diagnosis and treatment save the lives of those infected, it should also prevent further transmission of the virus. Recent statistics from the Ministry of Health have shown that almost all newly diagnosed HIV infections in Brunei Darussalam are due to unprotected sex.
“Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council, therefore, would like to call on those who feel that they have put themselves at risk, to seek HIV testing. Confidential testing involves a simple blood test that is available at all government health centres and clinics as well as private health facilities.
“Knowing your HIV status will empower you to make the right decisions with regard to your sexual health and protect your future. If you find out that you are infected with HIV, you can seek medical care quickly and every step is made to ensure that your status remains confidential.
“With the World AIDS Day theme since 2010 is on ‘Getting to Zero New Infection, AIDS?Related Deaths and New Infection’ and with addition to that, we echo The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) call for a new narrative on HIV target, dubbed ‘90-90-90’:
? By 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their status.
? By 2020, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
? By 2020, 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
“As per our Vision, ‘Together Towards an AIDS-free Brunei Society’, Getting to Zero is only achievable when all (from policymakers down to the baby in a mother’s arms) are on board; this includes you who are reading this message too.
“For this World AIDS Day, we would like to thank the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for the support and assistance in allowing us to continue our HIV and AIDS advocacy work and our various donors, supporters and partners, be it companies, educational institutions, community leaders, media agencies and volunteers.
“A special mention to the volunteers and their families in Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council, including our youth division, the Penyinar Club, who have given their support, ideas, effort, time and even donations; all these to help Brunei Darussalam’s society in raising awareness on HIV and AIDS.
“This year, we are proud to see various initiatives throughout the community to commemorate and observe World AIDS Day, from blood donation drives, fundraisers, photo competition, social media outreach, arts display, educational messages, downloading apps or by just simply donning the Red Ribbon on your shirt.
“Do contact us on social media (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram) on #BDAIDSCouncil or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss and take action on how we can play our part.”