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Each year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day, which is regarded as the longest-running disease awareness initiative of its kind in the history of public health. On that day, we honor the millions of lives lost to HIV and AIDS-related illness. It is important that we remind the public that HIV has not gone away. More importantly, we reflect on how far we have achieved the goal of ending this pandemic once and for all. To echo this year's World AIDS Day, the Society for AIDS Care (SAC) continues raising awareness and support for people living with HIV and encouraging HIV testing.
The World Health Organization issued new recommendations to increase HIV testing uptake. In particular, it recommends that HIV-serodiscordant couples get tested for HIV regularly. Studies have shown this can keep the positive partner healthier for longer and reduce the risk of passing the virus to their loved ones. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic has affected the in-person HIV testing service, and for older and low-income serodiscordant couples, the cost of the HIV Self-Testing Kit might be a burden. That’s why we are launching a Buy-1-Give-1 HIV Self-Testing Kit campaign. For every HIV Self-Testing Kit purchased, SAC will donate one HIV Self-Testing kit to an HIV-serodiscordant couple. The campaign will last until December 31. Donate HK$150 now to get a kit for yourself and share your love with others. Please support our cause at shorturl.at/bkqS9
According to the Centre for Health Protection of Department of Health figures in 2021, Hong Kong reported that more than 112 new cases in each quarter in average, meaning that about 1.2 persons get diagnosed each day. 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, sexual contact and tainted blood transfusion. These patients live under constant stress of HIV stigma and discrimination, driving them to live alone, isolated and burdened by their HIV status. We urged the public to talk openly about HIV, which can help normalize the subject, correct misconceptions and understand more about HIV. From 26 to 27 November, we organized a public roadshow at Yau Tsim Mong District, to showcase the art pieces made by PLHIV. Other activities such as an exhibition to introduce the services of SAC and information on our unique women phone-in hotline and free HIV & Syphilis testing, red ribbon interaction zone and photo area were also held during the event.
Every December is HIV/AIDS awareness month. We once again appealed for everyone in Hong Kong to show their support. Through their active participation, we hope to reduce discrimination against PLHIV. Therefore, PLHIV can seek proper help without fear, and feel better prepared to re-integrate back to the community.
Fundraising & Communications Manager, Ms. Yan Lee
Telephone: 2559 2006 / Email: email@example.com
The Society for AIDS Care (SAC) organized the annual AIDS Charity Walk to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and to encourage people to get involved in prevention efforts, get tested, know their status, and get linked to care and treatment. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the walk continued as virtual format to adhere to pandemic health and safety protocols while raising money for a great cause. In the month of October, nearly 600 participants joined together to appeal for all sectors of the public to be aware that people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) should seek proper treatment without fear of discrimination or being turned away due to their HIV status. Together, we “Say No to Discrimination!”
After more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual walk format has changed it from one-day physical event at the Peak, Hong Kong to a month-long virtual event. Corporates, families, students and individuals who registered for the walk were invited to design and complete the route remotely and creatively in whatever ways convenient for them within the event period. The event culminated on Sunday 13 November with a virtual announcement on SAC’s social media channels. The fundraising link (https://go.sparkraise.com/aidswalk2022) is still available until 31 December 2022. Proceeds raised through the walk will go to support SAC’s programs and services to provide high quality direct patient care services to PLHIV including drug supervision, therapeutic counseling, psychological support, physiotherapy, physical training, peers support, public education and volunteer training.
“We are extremely grateful for all the corporate sponsors, supporting organization, individual donors, students and VIP guests that committed continuously to our AIDS charity Walk. In the past 20 years, the walk has inspired thousands of individuals from around the world and helped to eliminate the misunderstanding and discrimination against AIDS,” said by Ms. Nichole Garnaut, Chairperson of SAC. “It was amazing and heart-warming to see participants staying creatively active in an effort to raise money on behalf of our organization during such a difficult time. We might walk separately but together we make a difference.”
“I would also like to thank the Walk sponsors and supporting organizations for their generous donations, including Goldman Sachs, Gilead Science, PricewaterhouseCoopers, OKAMOTO, J.P. Morgan, Simple Approach, Cassian Lau, Sim’s Sweet, Mentholatum and The Upper House,” Ms. Nichole Garnaut continued. “I am so proud and grateful for every single participants, donors, supporters and staff members who made this event such a huge success. It is because of them that we can continue to fight against this severe illness as well as in raising awareness for the prevention of an AIDS epidemic.”
“It's been almost three years since the outbreak of COVID-19 was first reported in Hong Kong. As we thought the situation has slightly stabilized, the fifth wave of the epidemic has hit us harder than expected. Being the first non-governmental organization in Asia providing high quality direct patient care services, we stay at the forefront to ensure a safe environment for our patient members, upholding the highest standard of professionalism,” stated Ms. Alice Chan, CEO of SAC. “I would like to take this opportunity to give my gratitude to all our partners and supporters whose unfailing support has helped us strengthen and expand our services over the years.”
In June 2022, the United Nation has released that if the international community reaches the target of 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 3.6 million new HIV-infections and 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths will be prevented by 2030. “At SAC, we continue to provide free HIV and syphilis testing with professional counselling to women in need. If someone is suspicious of one’s own HIV infection, conventional test taking blood from vein or rapid HIV antibody test can help to do the screening. However, as there is a need for the people to go for testing in person, some people are reluctant to participate in the testing as they avoid facing the testing staff,” Ms. Alice Chan explained. “Therefore, we launched a HIV self-testing program using non-invasive oral swab aims to improve the awareness of HIV testing. We hope these initiatives can compensate for testing and diagnoses missed during the COVID-19 outbreak and to accelerate the mission to end the AIDS epidemic.
According to statistics by the Department of Health, there were 125 cases of new infections in second quarter of 2022, accumulating to a total of 11,442 cases since 1984. Nearly 80% of the cases acquired the infections via sexual contact. 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. As to encourage the public to participate in HIV testing, we launched a HIV self-testing program using non-invasive oral swab aims to improve the awareness of HIV testing. The advantage for it be performed at a private place at any time. Through this program, we hope to promote the importance of early testing, early treatment.