Last day, going through Bhutan Observer Archive (online), I came to know that there are around 80 males and 80 females AIDS victims in Bhutan( as 0f 23 Jan, 2009) officially though Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that Bhutan could have more than 500 victims of disease. But what worried me was 13 victims aged five or under and one twelve years old minor; the minor who are born with mental, health and societal stigma attached to their beings.
Although our official record tells us that there are 160 unfortunate victims, my rational opinion makes me believe that there could be ten times more than what is being detected. I also believe, the number increases every month. Despite laudible awareness campaign by health personalities and volunteers, I must assume that communication on this diseases is more or less superficial. We need deep commitment to create awareness and deeper commitment to help those who are already victims. When I attended the awareness campaign as students, I heard campaigners telling how AIDS is spread and how one should take precaution against such diseases. They described HIV as killer virus and AIDS as killer disease. They hardly bothered to mention about helping those victims and various support and unconditional love they need in their times of difficulty. Describing AIDS as ‘killer disease’ will led to social and psychological outcaste of victims. AIDS for heaven sake is not killer disease. It is just like any other disease. The difference is only that it doesn’t yet have medicine that cured 100 percent.
When we campaign for AIDS awareness, it is important that we involve children and kids. When I say, we involve kids, I don’t mean they should be taught about AIDS in classroom or be taught by some campaigners or health officials. Kids should be involved as campaigners to talk to other kids and older people. Kids talking to kids will be more credible to kids than adult talking to kids. Besides it is the time, we teach our kids about AIDS and support needed by victims. Only then, we can be able to find lasting solution to AIDS menace.
We adults are brought up in varied but conservative and ignorant society. No matter how hard we pretended, we never seemed to look at victims as equal. Our background and bringing up, since birth have moulded us in such a way that we look upon AIDS as some monsters and victims as those possessed by it. Our societal and culture background always come into front. Our prejudice and old mindset always come in fray. The campaign of few hours cannot change the mindset we are living with, since our birth. The mindset of person is always influenced by how he lived till now not how he will live after. Unlike us, if we tell kids about AIDS now, their young mind can be moulded in such a way that victims are accepted as they are and also their precautions will become habit.so it is of utmost importance for our young kids to get involved in such awareness campaign.
Next time, I listen to awareness campagin, I don’t want to hear about how bad AIDS is but how good life even victim can have. Next time, I watch the street theater play, I don’t want those clowns (who play as infected victims) to die. I want to see them show the way, how victims and society can live happily and meaningfully together. Next time, I watch AIDS, I would love our young kids to talk to us about AIDS.