Mask Design Contest
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. Unfortunately, there is still no vaccine, and no cure for HIV infection. To commemorate this day, The Society for AIDS Care (SAC) continued its signature “Red Day” campaign. Under this theme, we urged the public to wear Red on World AIDS Day to show their support for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV). Awareness and prevention go hand in hand. We aimed to raise public awareness on HIV/AIDS prevention, to encourage wider acceptance on PLHIV, and to fight prejudice and improve education of HIV/AIDS.
From 27 to 28 November, we organized a public roadshow at Yau Tsim Mong District, to showcase the art pieces made by PLHIV. Led by registered expressive art therapist, our patient members made artistic creations through different media for expressing their inner suppression due to their illness and COVID-19 epidemic. They made use of own creativity in fascinating mask design to express personal feelings and bring encouragement to the community. 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.
According to the Centre for Health Protection of Department of Health figures in 2020, Hong Kong reported that more than 126 new cases in each quarter in average, meaning that about 1.4 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, spouses infecting each other 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.
In Hong Kong, stigma remains a significant barrier to HIV testing. If a person 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. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to threaten access to HIV prevention and testing. For this reason, we launched a HIV self-testing program using non-invasive oral swab aims to improve the awareness of HIV testing. The advantage for it can be performed at a private place at any time.
Every December is HIV/AIDS awareness month. It is the perfect time to reflect on how far we have achieved the goal of ending this pandemic once and for all. The Society for AIDS Care once again appealed for everyone in Hong Kong to participate in the “Red Day” Campaign. Through their active participation, we hope to reduce discrimination against PLHIV. Therefore, they 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society for AIDS Care (SAC) organized the annual AIDS Charity Walk to promote HIV/AIDS acceptance and to reinforce the importance of supporting people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV). Like last year, it continued as virtual walk to adhere pandemic health and safety protocols while raising money for a great cause. In the month of October to mid-November, near 700 participants joined together 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!”
Second year of the COVID-19 pandemic has opened another opportunity to organize the walk. This new perspective has led us to change the walk format from one-day physical event at the Peak, Hong Kong to a 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 21 November with a virtual announcement on SAC’s social media channels. The fundraising link (https://go.sparkraise.com/aids-walk-2021) is still available until 31 December 2021. 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.
“Last year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we foresee virtual event will become the new trend. Offering our annual charity walk virtually, it allowed individuals across the globe to come together and make a difference,” said by Mr. Christopher Jackson, the Co-chairman of AIDS Walk and Board Member 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.”
“I would also like to thank the Walk sponsors and supporting organizations for their generous donations, including Gilead Science, J.P. Morgan, PricewaterhouseCoopers, OKAMOTO, JOYCE, Simple Approach, Sim’s Sweet, Mentholatum and The Upper House,” Mr. Christopher Jackson 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.”
“Almost two years have passed, the situation of COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong has slightly stabilized in the past months. 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.”
With decades of experience and medical breakthroughs, evidences show that HIV treatment is highly effective in reducing the transmission of HIV infection, and result in viral load suppression which prevents the spread of HIV. Nevertheless, HIV-related stigma and discrimination are persistent barriers to addressing the AIDS epidemic. “Reduction of Stigma and Discrimination of AIDS is still something in need to be addressed urgently in Hong Kong. Many patients live under constant stress of HIV stigma and discrimination, driving them to live behind an invisible mask to protect their identities,” Ms. Alice Chan explained. “At SAC, we continue to provide a comfortable and relaxing environment for patient members to participate in various activities and meet their peers. We also encouraged members to care themselves and each other; develop diversified interests to improve their quality of life and hence live with a happy life.”
According to statistics by the Department of Health, there were 131 cases of new infections in second quarter of 2021, accumulating to a total of 11,017 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.