by Abdulfattoh Shavief in Tajikistan
“I do not want to live anymore. I’d prefer to die. I do not see a place for myself in this world, in this society. Everybody hates me, the entire world hates me…”
The young man opens the lid of a bottle and raises it to his mouth. It looks like poison. At this moment, his mother enters the room and only her interference saves the man’s life.
“Mom, I know that I made a mistake starting to prick myself with this trash. I know that I became HIV positive because of drugs. But why doesn’t anybody want to forgive me?”
“I forgive you, sonny, I love you, your father loves you, your friends love you. You should be strong and warn others about this danger.”
Iso Azonov, a young volunteer of the Red Crescent of Tajikistan and first-year student at the Tajik National University, tries to play his role convincingly in front 400 students and teachers from the Pedagogical University of Tajikistan. The main purpose of his scene is to show how a person living with HIV should not be stigmatized or face discrimination.
The Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan marked the World AIDS Day with an awareness-raising campaign beginning today at the university in the capital Dushanbe. During the event, young volunteers from the National Society warned their peers about the dangers and consequences of HIV and AIDS, chronicled the history of this disease, and gave an overview of the current situation in Tajikistan and elsewhere.
Based on official statistics, 3,051 people are living with HIV in Tajikistan. 2,428 are men. The majority of them are reported to have contracted the virus through the use of contaminated needles used to inject drugs.
Marhabo Olimova, the vice-rector of the Pedagogical University of Tajikistan, launched the campaign with a call to work with all groups within the country including migrant workers who may not be aware of their status and so may not seek treatment or could infect their partner. “Health is a gift. The most expensive and most valued gift that we have,” she said “Human beings should take care it. Nonetheless, despite notable progress achieved in recent years, there is still no cure for HIV. Unfortunately, some people understand it too late.”
Nurullo Faizalizoda, Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan advisor said the society’s mission was to inform people about this danger. “Today’s scenes prepared by our volunteers aim to teach us a lesson on how to learn from other people’s experience, even negative ones. A lesson on the need to put an end to prejudice, stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and people who inject drugs,” he said.
The Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan has implemented its HIV Prevention and Risk Reduction Programme since 2005. Hundreds of information and educational campaigns, meetings, and discussions have been conducted to increase the awareness among the public on prevention measures. Six Trust Points operate under this programme in different parts of Tajikistan to provide psychological support to the people living with HIV. The project also distributes information materials, sterile injecting equipment and condoms.
This year alone, more than 1,300 people have shown their trust in the organization and sought the help of its volunteers at these Trust Points.