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An Unjust Stigma on ‘Positive Thinkers’ Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Romi Nhung, Vietnam Dec 1, 2005
Human Rights   Opinions


For World AIDS Day 2005

“She acted so well, though I bet she must have tried her best to clean her hands after that handshake show with the HIV positive,” Xuan’s voice over the phone suddenly became harsh as she quoted a ‘miserable utterance’ of someone at the introductory screening of the Millennium Development Goals TV series “Tomorrow is yours and mine.”

“I was extremely outraged at the comment. In fact, I was not acting but honestly being myself, and more importantly, I love those people. There is no reason to be feared of!”

Duong Anh Xuan, who also participated in the “@ citizens” documentary for young people in 2003, was selected among dozens of potential applicants to be the leading character of the “Tomorrow is yours and mine” TV series, a production directed by well - known Vietnamese film director Pham Hoang Nam and produced by the United Nations in Viet Nam.

The series consisting of eight episodes, is an itinerary of a young probationary journalist on her expedition across the country to ‘learn life’ and to find new themes for her articles. When talking to local people along the way about their concerns and interviewing some famous persons, Xuan found out that poverty, universal education, gender equity, infant mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, environment and international cooperation for development were critical issues that affect people’s lives.

“I treasure the lessons I’ve learnt from all the people I met, especially those living with HIV/AIDS. I admire them for what they have gone through, their special will and their extraordinary courage to show up and to share their stories with the public. Putting myself into their shoes, I wouldn’t be able to do so…” said the probationary correspondent, opening her heart.

In the episode on HIV/AIDS, the film crew stopped at Nha Trang, a famous coastal city in the south of Viet Nam. Although Nha Trang is not among the five cities with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country, like other tourist attractions with the expansion of tourism, this beautiful city faces a challenge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as some over 600 HIV-infected cases have been reported recently. Through investigations before and during the filming, Xuan learnt that there is a brighter picture of the beach city, with a considerable contribution of the large awareness raising movement and the effective peer-to-peer education in Nha Trang. She met some of the most active peer-educators, played with HIV-positive kids, and talked to them, “without a slight discrimination and just like friend to friend.”

It is no longer difficult to find ‘positive thinkers’ who treat HIV/AIDS patients as equally as others like Xuan in the society, however, there still exists blind discrimination against this vulnerable group, and even against the ‘progressive thinkers.’ It is the duty of these ‘progressives’ to combat irrational stigmas towards them, along with the fight against wrong stereotypes of the HIV patients. In fact, many of them have done well.

Mai Thao, an ‘unusual person’ who gave up her high salary position in an international company to work for a non-governmental organization’s community-development projects, recalled her college boyfriend’s annoyance when he first knew she volunteered her free time at the Tam Binh HIV Children’s Centre. “There are other things for you to do than to look after the HIV children. What happens if a scratch on your skin touches their oozing wound? I’m worried about you playing with those kids.” Mai Thao soon helped him realize that there was nothing to worry about regarding her or the innocent children. It was simply love that bonded them together. After that, Mai Thao’s boyfriend joined her in every weekend visit to the orphanage.

‘Positive thinkers’ such as Mai Thao and Anh Xuan have inspired a lot of people to change their negative attitudes by sharing views, giving examples, showing people what they have done, and involving them into activities and interactions with the HIV infected. These positive thinkers understand anyone can be ‘progressive’ if he or she is persistently clear that fighting AIDS means fighting the virus and not the human.

Anticipation is high for the official launch of the Millennium Development Goals TV series “Tomorrow is yours and mine,” of which the sixth episode on HIV/AIDS presents the guest appearance of Jackie Chan. Chan, a ‘progressive’ as defined above and a UNICEF/UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador came to Viet Nam in April 2005 with the message, “put an end to discrimination and stigma towards children and families infected or affected with HIV/AIDS.”



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Romi Nhung

*^-^* Romi *^-^*

Ask the Possible of the Impossible, "Where is your dwelling-place?" "In the dreams of the Impotents," comes the answer.

~ Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)~

Jenny Mason | Oct 23rd, 2007
Thank you for you uplifting article. There is great power in the art of positive thinking, and I think you have done well to exemplify this truth.

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