Since 1997, I have marked Dec 1 – World AIDS Day – in some form or other.
In college, my friends and I put together a HIV/AIDS themes performance. In Australia, I handed out red ribbons in the heart of Perth city to the public. At R.AGE, we do special editions of our pull out (twice winning the Red Ribbon Award).
Over the past few years, I have joined some local personalities to spread awareness through campaigns. In 2010, it was AIDSAware. Last year, and again this year, it is with Durex’s #SomebodyLikeMe campaign.
I usually also do something on my own. If I go out, I’ll wear the Red Ribbon. On social media, I’ll share information, articles and more about the issue. One year, I sat down and made tons of red ribbons which I then distributed to all my colleagues at a college I was teaching at. When I got to London in 2011 and didn’t know what to do, I did a 5K run for charity (thanks to those who contributed) in the freezing cold!
I also make sure I mark the date in my writing. This year, I spent the whole morning of World AIDS Day writing my The Bangsar Boy column which will be published on Wednesday. I talk about everything I mentioned above, as a way to encourage people to go out and do their own thing with causes close to their hearts.
For me, there are some causes which I feel strongly about. Over the past few years, I’ve been working hard on projects that bring people together and spread positivity. After I lost a close aunt to cancer, and after my dad survived it, I took some time to work with the National Cancer Society of Malaysia to help with fundraising, among other things.
HIV/AIDS however is my oldest cause and still remains an important one to me.
This year, I was again asked to write a statement to accompany my photo for the campaign. This is what I went with:
#SomebodyLikeMe imagines a world where everybody is safe!
Check out #SomebodyLikeMe’s website to join the conversation, and watch a music video featuring Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Amber Chia, Danny One, An Honest Mistake, my former student Diandra and more. I couldn’t make it for the video as I was out of town, but happy to support such a cause.
My wish for this World AIDS Day is for everyone to be more aware about HIV/AIDS, that there be less judging and stigmatising of people living with the disease (it’s not only an emotional appeal, this can help reduce numbers too because then more people will test themselves) and for us to get to HIV zero in the near future.
Cilisos published a piece today about some facts related to HIV/AIDS and Malaysia. Check it out.
9.35pm Malaysian time (+8 GMT)