Sasau wants friendly environment for HIV/AIDS victims

Temo-Sasau-has-pleaded-with-the-various-communities-to-love-and-accept-people-living-with-HIVAIDS. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

TEMO SASAU, who has been living with HIV for the past 12 years, has called on faith-based organisations to not only pray for people living with the virus but to assure them of God’s love and acceptance.

His comment follows an experience he encountered in 2008 when a pastor stopped him from sharing his experience during a church gathering.

“I call on church groups to identify and strategise ways to have a friendly environment so that people living with HIV can have confidence in continuing to have fellowship with the Almighty God,” Mr Sasau said.

“People living with HIV will not jump from church to church searching for acceptance and love.

“I also call on civil society organisations to continue to address HIV in a non-discriminatory way, share the facts and don’t share unnecessary jokes of mistakes made by those who have been diagnosed with HIV.

“For community leaders, please provide opportunities for awareness to your communities for issues relating to HIV/AIDS, sexual reproductive health and teenage pregnancies.”

Mr Sasau made this plea at the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial service in Labasa on Sunday night. Stigma and discrimination were issues, he said, most of them faces which was why they preferred to go into hiding.

“We have indeed come a long way. However, people living with HIV continue to hide away and isolate themselves,” Mr Sasau said.

“It is better for them to live by themselves than to face discrimination but why are we still hiding in the midst of increased awareness programs over the past two decades.”

However, he considers himself blessed because he is a Fijian and the Government supported people like him.

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