On December 1, 2012, Shreejana Bajracharya one of ASAP’s Youth Champions worked with her local youth network to disseminate information about HIV and AIDS to the people of Baktapur in Nepal. Here is her story, in her words.
It was chilling December morning. My Youth group and I were ready to join a rally to observe the 25th International World AIDS Day on 1st Dec, 2012. Our slogan was the same as the “Getting to Zero” slogan for the Global AIDS DAY: “Zero New HIV Infection, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS related Death.”
The District AIDS Coordination Committee (DACC) in Bhaktapur, gave my youth group funding to prepare specially designed Red Ribbons, which we distributed to all participants at the event freely. We received much appreciation for the design and one of the adult participants said,
” Well I love the new design of HIV ribbon. Some people hesitate to just put this symbol because other may think they might be people living with HIV. Great job ladies”.
Hearing this: my young girls had a wide smile on their faces and they were much determined to disseminate the right information about HIV and AIDS in the stall we had put up in an area of Bhaktapur popular among young people. After a few seconds we hear people chatting near us,” Are these girls HIV infected?”
In spite of this, we had many visitors at our stall, and they requested for leaflets and brochures related to HIV. We distributed some books, brochures, postures and free condoms too which was supported by DACC. Many young boys and traffic officers requested us for packets of condoms. Few young women were wanted to see female condom. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to demonstrate this.
I also came across an adult man, who coming closer to our stall said,
” I do not think I need the information regarding this. I am religious person and I have just come from temple. Give this information to those who really need this.”
I was surprised to know his thoughts. One of the young people from my group replied,” It is a virus not only transmitted with multiple sex partners. Who knows if the blood given to me was HIV infected.”
It was also noticed that only few women came to our stall and discussed with us. They were curious to know how a woman transmit virus to her baby. We asked school students who visited our stall about the medium of HIV transmission. They replied HIV is transmitted by sexual contact, using needles and sharp objects, blood transfusion, from mother to child.
I was very happy with the event, because we shared accurate information. More than this we realized people did not know about difference between HIV and AIDS. Government, NGOs, INGOs and even local groups are doing a lot to create awareness. Every single day media is talking about “Getting to Zero.”
But I realized the information is not seeping into activism at the grass root level. That is vital before we actually get to Zero. My youth group can really make a difference in this area. Fingers crossed. Hope we see people much more aware in upcoming days.