Hsi-hsi knew she would never enjoy a wedding night, a honeymoon, or even a future with Wei-bi when she married him last year. Their wedding was held in an intensive care unit in Taipei, where a paralyzed Wei-bi was receiving treatment.
"My husband was so strong and healthy when we first met [in 1999]," Hsi-hsi said, adding that Wei-bi became progressively sicker beginning early last year, and never recovered.
Not long after their wedding, Wei-bi succumbed to AIDS.
"My husband would have wanted me to be here today, working to prevent AIDS," Hsi-hsi told reporters at a press conference at the Taiwan AIDS Foundation's headquarters in Taipei yesterday.
The foundation had called the conference to announce that it will be holding a fundraising drive on Aug. 30 -- Chinese Valentine's Day.
"Valentine's Day is just around the corner," foundation chairman Twu Shiing-jer (
"So, this is the perfect time for us to promote a romantic but safe holiday," he said.
According to the foundation, games and activities for couples, and a concert will be held at the square near Warner Village Cinema on Wednesday.
People who donate at least NT$100 to the foundation at the event will receive NT$500 worth of fruit-flavored condoms, said Lin Chiung-chao (
Lin said the foundation would promote awareness of AIDS and safe sex at Wednesday's event.
"Since an AIDS vaccine or a cure still doesn't exist, we must focus on prevention," said Nick Liao (
Prevention and early detection were the themes of the conference, with Hsi-hsi pleading for couples to use condoms and to learn more about HIV/AIDS.
"It was because my husband and I used condoms that I was able to avoid contracting the disease," she said, adding that if only she and Wei-bi had been tested for AIDS sooner, he would probably be alive and healthy today.
Tsai Su-fen (
"If one is diagnosed early, and starts treatment in the early stages of the disease, AIDS is quite manageable, and one can lead a fairly normal life," Tsai told reporters.
As for how people with HIV/AIDS are received in society, Tsai said that 80 percent of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were accepted by their family members and associates, leading fairly normal lives.
"However, there is always a segment of HIV/AIDS-infected people who are ostracized by their family members or fired by employers because of the disease," Tsai said.