Mon, Dec 01, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Siew urges caring for the sick on World AIDS Day

DISCRIMINATION The vice president stressed that AIDS prevention is one of the most critical health issues today, and he also said that patients’ rights must be protected

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders gather on the eve of World AIDS Day in front of the National Democracy Memorial Hall in Taipei yesterday. They joined a parade to raise awareness about AIDS prevention as part of World AIDS activities.

PHOTO: AP

In preparation for World AIDS Day today, Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) yesterday called on the public to join the fight against AIDS by not discriminating against AIDS patients.

The WHO has declared Dec. 1 World AIDS Day in a bid to bring public attention to the global AIDS epidemic, a disease that affects 30 million people worldwide.

At a press conference held by the Centers for Disease Control yesterday to promote a series of events in association with World AIDS Day, Yeh said the slogan for this year’s World AIDS Day is “Take the lead. Stop AIDS. Keep the promise.”

He said that the “lead” did not mean only world leaders or government officials.

“Everyone can lead. Everyone can contribute,” said Yeh, urging the public not to discriminate against AIDS sufferers, but instead to face the disease with a positive attitude.

Siew, also invited to speak at the event, said he hopes the public will show AIDS victims love and care instead of discrimination.

“[Last year,] 2 million people in the world died of AIDS ... and 2.5 million people discovered they were HIV-positive,” Siew said. “This is not a crisis for one country, it is everywhere in the world — all countries should be involved in the effort to counter AIDS. If we devote care to the fight against AIDS, then I’m confident that we can stop the spread of the disease.”

Siew recalled that when he went to visit Haiti and Swaziland during his term as premier, the AIDS problem there was unsettling.

“The life expectancy [of people in Swaziland] is only about 37, 38, and almost half the population has AIDS,” he said. “It has become a global concern.”

“[In Swaziland,] only one out of every five people with AIDS receives basic medical care. Of this group, only 31 percent are treated for AIDS,” he added.

Siew stressed that AIDS prevention is one of the most critical global health issues. In addition to devoting care to AIDS patients and not discriminating against them, there is also a need to protect their human rights, he said, adding that Taiwan is one of the few countries that provides free medical care to those with AIDS.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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