HK group rolls out campaign to fight HIV stigma

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Four Hong Kong celebrities and a politician threw their weight behind a campaign aimed at stamping out prejudice against people living with HIV/AIDS by asking: If I were HIV positive, would you still love me?

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Starting on Wednesday, posters of the five -- who include actor Daniel Wu and politician Alan Leong, captured individually in black and white -- will feature for a month on buses, subway platforms, newspapers and magazines.

Each portrait will also ask, in the local dialect, a question that starts with: “If I were HIV positive...”

“If I were HIV positive, would I be offered the leading role in a movie?” asks the Daniel Wu poster. “If I were HIV positive, would my cartoons still make you laugh?” asks cartoonist Alice Mak.

While HIV/AIDS is widely discussed in many Western countries, it is still an invisible blight in many places in Asia, where ignorance, fear and prejudice about the disease abounds.

“People are afraid of being labelled and isolated,” campaign organiser Loretta Wong of the non-government group AIDS Concern told a news conference.

“Many of us are ignorant about the disease and some think they can be infected through shaking hands or having a meal together with a sufferer,” added politician Leong.

“These misunderstandings create obstacles to the prevention of the disease ... people are scared to get tested or even seek treatment and that could help spread the disease.”

AIDS Concern also hopes to take the campaign to schools and universities to urge people to confront any preconceptions about the disease.

“Perhaps we can ask our bosses, if I were HIV-positive, would I still have work?” Wong said.

Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Miral Fahmy