According to statistics by the Department of Health, there were 624 cases of new infections in 2018, accumulating to a total of 9,715 cases since 1984. Today, The Society for AIDS Care (SAC) organized the AIDS Charity Walk cum Mask Design Contest Award Ceremony at the Peak. Celebrities Ms. Kristal Tin, Ms. Candice Yu, Mr. Chui Tien-you, Mr. Michael Wong’s family, Mr. Ling Man Lung, and Ms. Ankie Beilke attended the ceremony as SAC Ambassadors. Co-chairperson of AIDS Walk, Mr. Christopher Jackson and emcee Mr. William Lam reinforced the importance of supporting people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) and to appeal for all sectors of the public to be aware that PLHIV should seek proper treatment without fear of discrimination or being turned away due to their HIV status. Together, we “Say No to Discrimination!” Other guests such as Ms. Oliver Chen, Ms. Crisel Consunji and Mr. Himmy Wong from movie “Still Human”; Ms. Rosa Maria Velasco and Ms. Rachel Leung and fashion celebrities also attend to the event.
Ms. Kristal Tin hoped that AIDS Walk could help to eliminate the misunderstanding and discrimination against AIDS, as well as showed care and acceptance to PLHIV. Ms. Tin appreciated SAC’s direct patient services to those in need. And was happy to walk with PLHIV and helped them reintegrate into the society. She also introduced the Women Hotline and Free HIV Testing Service which is operated by experienced nurse and social worker to answer women's enquiries on HIV. It helps those women who are lack of knowledge on HIV prevention.
Ms. Candice Yu has joined the Walk to support PLHIV for the third consecutive year. She mentioned that SAC is the only charitable organization which looks after HIV+ children. She also introduced SAC’s Mother-to-child Transmission Prevention Program which successfully eliminated HIV in 39 new infants from HIV positive mothers under care. Mr. Ling Man Lung pointed out the importance of acceptance for PLHIV so that they can seek help without discrimination. He also promoted SAC’s annual Mask Design Contest and said that there are over 2,000 submissions from 100 local secondary school students and public with the theme of “Say No to Discrimination.” He mentioned that all shortlisted and winning submissions were also on display at Peak Galleria and along the walking route to promote acceptance towards PLHIV who are fighting this severe disease alone.
The Co-chairman of AIDS Walk and Board Director of The Society for AIDS Care, Mr. Christopher Jackson stated that SAC has joined with over 100 countries and 800 organizations to declare HIV Undetectable Viral Load is Untransmittable (U=U). And pleased to announce patients under our care have already achieving over 90% undetectable rate. This is vital in controlling further HIV transmission in Hong Kong. He also thanked the Walk sponsors and supporting organizations for their generous donations, including Gilead Science, Dayton Industrial, J.P. Morgan, Clifford Chance, OKAMOTO, Baker Mackenzie, Credit Suisse, HK01, JOYCE Group, #Legend, Marathon Sport, MTR, Simple Approach, Sim’s Sweet and Swire Coca-Cola HK.
AIDS Walk took place at The Peak this year with the route from Harlech Road to Lugard Road. Over 600 participants wore the masks designed by students and public of the Mask Design Contest and completed the Walk despite the bad weather. The Mask Design Contest Award Ceremony was also held at the opening ceremony of AIDS Walk to acknowledge the winners’ and their works.
Most patients under SAC’s care suffer HIV infection were unknowing of its cause at the time. Some of these cases include mother-to-child transmission, spouses infecting each other and tainted blood transfusion. These patients live under constant stress of HIV stigma and discrimination, driving them to live behind an invisible mask to protect their identities. SAC has been providing direct quality service to meet the needs of PLHIV and their care givers since 1994. The services are provided with the team of experienced nurses, social workers, counselors and physiotherapist to re-build the lives of PLHIV and facilitate full community integration.