Zero hero

Zero hero

Ben fights HIV/AIDS discrimination

Photos courtesy of Ben Chalatit, Methinee Kosaisuk and UN AIDS
Photos courtesy of Ben Chalatit, Methinee Kosaisuk and UN AIDS

There are still about 7,000 new HIV/AIDS patients each year. And while modern treatments allow sufferers to live normal lives, many still experience discrimination, even in some hospitals.

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Zero hero

by Suwitcha Chaiyong

The world has taken great strides in dealing with HIV/AIDS since the disease was first identified in the US in 1981. According to the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Disease Control, the number of infections has declined significantly in recent years. However, there are still about 7,000 new patients each year. And while modern treatments allow sufferers to live normal lives, many still experience discrimination, even in some hospitals.

To raise awareness of the issue and try and overcome negative attitudes, the UNAIDS agency has launched the Zero Discrimination campaign. Its main aim is to create better understanding in healthcare settings. Popular singer and actor Chalatit Tantiwut (Ben) is a participant in the campaign as its goodwill ambassador to Thailand.

S Weekly talked to the star over the phone about Zero Discrimination and changing attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS.

Why is the Zero Discrimination campaign important?

Ben: In the past, anti-AIDS campaigns portrayed the disease as terminal. There were very scary images of patients, which meant that people became afraid to be around them, even healthcare workers inside hospitals, Some HIV/AIDS patients were isolated from others and treated differently. I’d like people to open their minds and realise that there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s not easy to get infected, and even if you do, you can still live a normal life. Those who have the disease shouldn’t be mistreated or discriminated against.

What misconceptions do people have about HIV/AIDS?

Ben: People should be properly educated about how the virus is transmitted. You won’t get infected by sharing food or a hug or a kiss. It’s transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids. Because a lot of people don’t know about this, they try to avoid contact with sufferers entirely. And sometimes people who may actually be infected decide not to get tested because they don’t want to be treated differently.

Have you ever known anybody who had HIV?

Ben: Yes. About 20 years ago, I discovered that two of my neighbours — a married couple — were HIV positive. The wife was infected by her husband, who then passed away. At the time, the whole neighbourhood felt very awkward around them. But my attitude has changed. The wife has been able to control the infection and now she’s alive and healthy. It made me realise that the disease isn’t as scary as I thought.

Where can people go to get tested?

Ben: Most people know about the Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic. But I don’t think you have to be anonymous. It’s normal to get yourself checked out. In fact, it’s the responsible thing to do, so we shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it. People can get HIV tested for free twice a year at any government hospital. If you catch the disease at an early stage and receive medication, you can control it.

Can you tell us about the shelter for HIV patients that you visited recently?

Ben: I went to Camillian Social Centre in Rayong, which is a shelter for children born to HIV infected mothers and HIV patients who have been neglected by their families. The foundation tries to find careers for the patients, so they can take an active part in society. If anybody wants to make merit, this foundation is an option that they should consider.

Is it true that you’re planning a concert to raise funds for HIV/AIDS patients?

Ben: Yes. I’ve been in touch with promoters and many great artists. I hope we can put it together. We plan to hold the show in July.

UNAIDS aims to wipe out the disease by 2030. Do you think that’s possible?

Ben: I don’t know. We aim for the best results. I think what’s most important for now is that people understand that the disease is no longer fatal. With medication, people can live normal lives.

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  • agency (noun): a government department that provides a particular service - หน่วยงานราชการ
  • aim: purpose; goal - เป้าหมาย จุดมุ่งหมาย
  • aim: to have as your purpose or goal - มีเป้าหมาย มีจุดมุ่งหมาย
  • ambassador: someone who is considered to represent an activity, organization, company etc - ตัวแทน, ผู้แทน
  • anonymous: not named - ไม่ระบุชื่อ
  • attitude: someone’s opinions or feelings about something, especially as shown by their behaviour - ทัศนคติ, ลักษณะท่าทาง
  • avoid: to stay away from; to not use - หลีกเลี่ยง
  • awareness: the state of knowing about something - การรับรู้, การทราบ
  • awkward: difficult to deal with; causing problems - กระอักกระอ่วน
  • blood (noun): the red liquid that flows through the bodies of humans and animals - เลือด
  • campaign: a planned series of activities - การรณรงค์
  • career: a job or series of related jobs that you do, especially a profession that you spend a lot of your working life in - อาชีพ
  • consider: to give careful thought to something before making a decision - พิจารณา
  • contact: to touch - สัมผัส
  • dealing with: taking appropriate action in a particular situation or according to who you are talking to, managing, etc. - รับมือ
  • decline: to become less or worse - ลดลง
  • discover: to find somebody/something, or learning about something that was not known about before - ค้นพบ
  • discriminate: to treat one person or group worse/better than another in an unfair way - เลือกปฏิบัติกับ
  • discrimination: the practice of treating someone or a particular group in society less fairly than others - การเลือกปฏิบัติ, การแบ่งแยก
  • embarrassed (adj): feeling uncomfortable, nervous, worried or ashamed about something that you have done or something that has happened - รู้สึกอาย
  • entirely: completely; in every way possible - โดยทั้งหมด, โดยสิ้นเชิง
  • experience (verb): to have something happen to you or to live through some event - ประสบ
  • fatal: causing someone to die - ถึงตาย
  • fluid: a liquid; a substance that can flow - ของเหลว, ของไหล
  • foundation: an organisation that provides money for things such as medical research or for a charity - มูลนิธิ
  • goodwill: friendly or helpful feelings towards other people or countries - ความเป็นมิตร, ความหวังดี, มิตรไมตรี
  • hug: the action of putting your arms round someone to show your love or friendship - การกอด
  • identify: to specify - ระบุ
  • image: a photograph, painting, or other work of art that represents a person or thing - รูปภาพ
  • in touch with: in contact with - ติดต่อกับ
  • infected: having been affected by disease or disease carrying substance - ซึ่งติดเชื้อ
  • infection: a disease or medical condition that is caused by a bacteria or by a virus or a parasite - การติดเชื้อ
  • isolated: set apart from; disconnected from - แยกออกมา ตั้งอยู่เดี่ยวๆ
  • issue: a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น
  • launch (verb): to start something - เริ่มต้น, เปิดโครงการ, เริ่มทำ
  • make merit: to do good things according to religious beliefs - ทำบุญ
  • medication: a medicine, or a set of medicines or drugs used to improve a particular condition or illness - ยารักษาโรค
  • Ministry of Public Health (noun): the ministry that oversees and carries out the government national health policy - กระทรวงสาธารณสุข
  • misconception: a belief or an idea that is not based on correct information, or that is not understood by people - ความเข้าใจผิด
  • mistreat: to treat someone in an unfair or cruel way - การทารุณกรรม
  • negative: bad - ที่เป็นด้านลบ
  • neglected: not receiving enough care or attention - ถูกทอดทิ้ง
  • neighbours (noun): people who live near you - เพื่อนบ้าน
  • normal (adj.): typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect - ปกติ, ภาวะปกติ
  • option: a choice; something that you can choose in a particular situation - ทางเลือก
  • overcome: to succeed in controlling or dealing with something - ต่อสู้อุปสรรคจนสำเร็จสำมารถดำเนินการต่อไปได้
  • participant: someone who takes part in something - ผู้เข้าร่วม
  • passed away (verb): died - จากไป (ตาย),เสียชีวิต, มรณภาพ
  • patients (noun): people who are receiving medical treatment - คนป่วย, คนไข้
  • portray: to describe or show somebody/something in a particular way, especially when this does not give a complete or accurate impression of what they are like - พรรณนา, วาดภาพ
  • positive (adj): showing clear evidence that a particular substance or medical condition is present มีประจุบวก (การทดสอบ) - มีประจุบวก (การทดสอบ)
  • raise: to increase the amount or level of something - เพิ่ม, ทำให้สูงขึ้น, ส่งเสริม, ยกระดับ
  • realise (verb): to know about - ตระหนัก  รู้
  • responsible: sensible, reliable, and able to be trusted to do the right thing - มีความรับผิดชอบ
  • scary: frightening - น่าตกใจ, น่ากลัว
  • semen (noun): the whitish liquid containing sperm that is produced by the sex organs of men and male animals - น้ำอสุจิ
  • shelter: a place where people are protected from danger or bad weather; a temporary place to stay - ที่หลบภัย  ที่พักชั่วคราว
  • significantly: in an important way - อย่างมีความหมาย, อย่างสำคัญ
  • stage: a part of an activity or process or a period of development - ช่วง, ระยะ, ตอน
  • stride (noun): an improvement in the way something is developing - การก้าวหน้า
  • sufferer: a person who suffers, i.e., who is badly affected by something, especially somebody who is suffering from a disease - ผู้ป่วย, ผู้เจ็บป่วย, ผู้ที่ได้รับความทุกข์
  • terminal (adj): (of an illness or a disease) that cannot be cured and will lead to death, often slowly - ที่อยู่ในขั้นที่ ไม่สามารถรักษาได้
  • transmitted (verb): sent, spread from one person or animal to another - ส่ง, ถ่าย
  • treatment: the process of providing medical care - การรักษา
  • vaginal (adj): connected with the vagina, the passage in the body of a woman or female animal between the outer sex organs and the womb - เกี่ยวกับช่องคลอด
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