Mon, Jul 11, 2005 - Page 2 News List

HIV/AIDS sufferers face eviction

UNWELCOME For the second time in as many months, community opposition to the presence of AIDS patients may force a group of sufferers to look for a new home

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Twenty-two HIV-infected people and AIDS patients living in a halfway home at an apartment complex in Wenshan District face a deadline of today to move out of the community after a fierce protest by community members.

Undeterred by the setback, residents and volunteers at the Midway Home built by the Harmony Home Association expressed a strong desire to remain in the community and called for greater social acceptance of people with AIDS.

The Midway Home is a self-help group and half-way house for AIDS patients and people who are HIV-positive.

"HIV can only be contracted through intercourse, blood transfusions and breast milk. People will not be at risk of contracting HIV by having an AIDS patient living next door," Nicole Yang (楊婕), secretary general of the association, said. "We hope that the public can show some love to AIDS patients and HIV-positive people, and allow them to rebuild their lives in the community residence."

The Midway Home was originally located in Sanchong District. But the landlord, after finding out that people in the organization had AIDS, decided not to renew their lease.

As a result, in June the association moved the Midway Home to the current site. Six children with AIDS, as well as 16 adults who are either HIV-positive or have full-blown AIDS, are living in the shelter.

The local police station revealed the situation to the township officials, sparking fear and resentment in the community, according to Yang.

After learning about their new neighbors, community members issued a statement expressing opposition during a township meeting on July 1 held to discuss the issue.

"Many of the AIDS patients are drug addicts or gay people. We refuse to live under the fear that one day one of those people may stab other residents with a needle or have a bad influence on our children," the statement said.

A representative of the residence surnamed Chen said that despite some people's anger, the community as a whole does not intend to discriminate against AIDS patients and push them out, and thus cause the same anxiety in other neighborhoods.

"I think the government should establish a shelter specifically for AIDS patients so that they can get professional help and not cause public fear," she said.

One resident of the Midway Home, an AIDS patient who goes by the alias of "A-chong," said that he understood the community's fears. But after being cast out from their families and now without a halfway home, Midway Home residents don't know where to go.

"The saddest thing for us [AIDS patients and HIV-positive people] is that while we are alive, we have no place to live, and when we die, no funeral homes will take our bodies," he said.

Yang said that on average, one out of four AIDS patients face discrimination from their own families and friends, and have no homes to return to. As such, the Midway Home may be the only place they can find support and love.

As a friendly gesture to show their desire to stay in the current site, the association promised to ensure a sanitary environment in the community, as well as to provide AIDS-related education and maintain the moral standards in the neighborhood, in a bid to gain the community's acceptance.

But if the community members insist on forcing them out, the Midway Home will have to search for a new site on their own, since the government has provided no assistance.

This story has been viewed 4008 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top