Thu, Aug 24, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Widow urges couples to learn about HIV/AIDS

EARLY DETECTION KEY The Taiwan AIDS Foundation will sponsor an AIDS awareness event next Wednesday for Valentine's Day, to promote a romantic but safe day

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

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 (涂醒哲) said.

"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 (林瓊照), the foundation's vice secretary-general.

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 (廖育能), president of one of the Rotary International clubs in Taipei and a panel member at yesterday's conference.

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 (蔡淑芬), a consultant to the foundation, said that anyone who is sexually active should get tested for HIV/AIDS regularly.

"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.

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