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It’s World AIDs Day and nothing hampers the prevention of HIV and AIDS more than ignorance and tabboo.
Sex is still a taboo subject in most Indian and Fijian communities.
In India, over 2.3 million adults live with HIV. Even a liberal Bollywood has been slow to push the envelope with no real commercial films on the subject though a recent film Kaminey did contain an AIDS awareness song and Aamir Khan is thinking about making one next year.
As for Fiji, given the ultra religious climate and condemnation of everything from abortion to pre-marital, HIV and AIDS education poses a real challenge. President Nailatikau, for all his faults, at least realizes the outdated and foolish nature of preaching abstinence. Whether or not the faith-based and religious leaders follow his advice is another matter.
AIDS is not just a gay male problem. Women’s empowerment and sex education are key preventative measures that cannot come faster for societies faced with a growing number of HIV+ cases. And big pharmaceutical companies won’t distribute vaccines or medications to people in need anytime soon. We are left to fend for ourselves.
Strictly from an immigration standpoint, around 67 countries deny the entry, stay and residence of HIV-positive people because of their HIV+ status only. That is discriminatory and deplorable. Read more here.
President Bush has recently signed the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that repeals the ban but it remains in place till the HHS issues new authorizations.
At the same time, Britain is deporting HIV patients, many countries lack the funds to fight HIV, while the atrocious global gag rule that prevents women from getting adequate reproductive care, remains in place.
Coming back to my own understanding of HIV / AIDS, while I don’t personally know anyone who suffers from this illness, I know some who have succumbed to it. Moreover, I am appalled at the way the lesbian segment of the LGBT community takes the issue lightly — to date, there has never been any sort of protection shown on major shows portraying lesbian sex.
In regards to desi culture, HIV/AIDs is still a taboo subject, much like homosexuality.
My Brother Nikhil is one of the few Indian movies that address the issue of being a gay male with HIV and a must-watch.
Another is Phir Milenge
For more information on events and how you can get involved, go to any of these sites:
It was World Aids Day yesterday, I almost forgot had Sony not played My Brother Nikhil. I made sure to record it for my mother and MADE her sit through it. I should own the movie, but haven’t had time to get it.
Sanjay Suri (my favorite) plays a champion athlete swimmer who just happens to be gay and very “normal” and contracts HIV. The movie shows the sheer ignorance of people around him, including family, to deal with his identity and “disease.” He is even put in solitary confinement for a while! It has that beautiful song “Le Chale” … Anyway, to date, it is the best Indian movie that deals with homosexuality, in addition to AIDS. The most beautiful thing about My Brother Nikhil is that they make clear that IT DOES NOT matter how someone contracts HIV, the point is to discuss WHAT HAPPENS with that person after he/she contracts HIV.