Sia Ling Xin
Wed, Dec 02, 2009
my paper
S'poreans put focus on Aids awareness

A JIGSAW puzzle bearing a message encouraging people to eliminate the social stigma attached to Aids went up on each of the 11 floors of fuel company Chevron's office in Raffles Place yesterday, which was World Aids Day.

These puzzles, which were pieced together by 78 of its employees over the last month to mark World Aids Day, will be displayed for two weeks.

Yesterday, all its employees also attended an awareness talk by a trained professional, and were given World Aids Day pins to wear for the day.

The activities were meant to "give employees a proactive opportunity to stand up to the discrimination against HIV/Aids and also to educate themselves on HIV prevention", a Chevron spokesman said.

The company was among several organisations here that held events to mark the day.

World Aids Day, which has been observed here annually since 1987, is dedicated to raising awareness of Aids, caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is infecting more people every year.

In the first 10 months of this year, 378 Singapore residents were newly diagnosed with HIV, close to the 382 cases in the same period last year.

The Health Ministry expects the total tally for the year to be similar to that of last year's 456 cases.

Last Saturday, Action for Aids (AFA), a charity group that supports HIV/Aids patients, organised the World Aids Day Walk 2009 - Aids Unmasked - with cosmetics giant M.A.C.

About 400 participants donated $10 each, donned facemasks to symbolise the stigma of the disease that makes patients choose to hide under anonymity, and walked from Youth Scape Park at Somerset to Tangs.

At the end of the walk, the masks were taken off to symbolise the removal of the stigma.

The amount raised by the event will be used by the AFA to help patients pay for medication.

On the same day, M.A.C. also donated proceeds from selling its lipstick and lip gloss at $28 each to the M.A.C Aids Fund, which provides financial support to those affected by HIV/Aids all over the world.

The fight against Aids has gone online as well.

Standard Chartered Bank set up a website with information on HIV/Aids (www.vir.us) five months ago to reach out to youths, and the Health Promotion Board has pulled in more than 20 influential local bloggers to debunk myths and misconceptions surrounding HIV/Aids.

Sports-products maker Nike and Red's, which engages the private sector to raise awareness and funds for the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa, joined hands this year.

Profits from the sales of Nike shoelaces, at $7 per pair, will be split equally among The Global Fund and Nike football-based community initiatives that deliver education on HIV/Aids prevention.

National football players Precious Emuejeraye, John Wilkinson, Hariss Harun and Indra Sahdan will use the laces to show their support for the campaign.

Professor Roy Chan, AFA's president, said: "We are pleased to see an increasing number of companies in Singapore marking World Aids Day, to raise awareness by engaging their staff through interesting and creative events. Many of these companies are global multinational corporations and we hope that many of the local companies would also likewise mark World Aids Day."

AFA will hold the World Aids Day Getai at Chinatown on Saturday, and LiveLife - an event to reach out to clubbers - at nightspot Zirca on Sunday.





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