Monday, March 17, 2014

On HIV/AIDS in Indonesia: A weekly journal response

During the my second semester at Sarah Lawrence, I took a class on Children's Health in a Multicultural Context. As the only Asian and freshman, I felt intimidated and fearful of sounding dumb. Sometimes, though, we have to jump into the deep end of the pool to fully understand ourselves and the material at hand. Throughout the course, I submitted required weekly reaction papers, many of which revolved around Indonesia. Here is one of them...

April 8, 2012

9th Reaction Journal

In 2007, Indonesia ranked 99th in the world by prevalence rate. One of the underlying factors of this event is that only 5 to 10% of HIV/AIDS sufferers are actually diagnosed and treated, due to low understanding and the stigma attached to the disease. Areas with the highest concentration of HIV/AIDS patients are Papua, Jakarta, East Java, West Java, Bali, and Riau. Indonesia stretches more than 3,000 miles along the Equator. Various factors, such as cultural practices and levels of urbanization, impact the spread of HIV. One of the driving forces of the escalation of HIV in Papua is the culture of paid and “transactional” sex among young men and women aged 15 to 24. However, the primary mode of transmission, accounting for 59% of HIV infections, is drug injection use. Furthermore, one way to finance drug habits are through prostitution. Only 54.7% of sex workers and 56.5% of men who have sex with men use condoms consistently. Consequently many IDUs are either drug users, sex workers or clients of sex workers. 

National Allarm 
Even with the increase of HIV/AIDS IDUs in the recent years, HIV is still stigmatized and discriminated against. Many people living with HIV hide their status for fear of losing their jobs, social status, and the support of their families and communities. Moreover, this behavior decreases the likelihood that those living with HIV will seek or receive proper treatment and increasing the chances of HIV spreading undetected. 
Throughout the years, the local government have innovated various techniques to decelerate the spread of this disease. Currently, the Indonesian government is developing the microchip tagging technology to keep track of the infected individuals known to be sexually active. In schools, various educational endeavors have been made. However, from my personal experience, these attempts to raise awareness to the youth is far from effective. I have been receiving sex education since junior high school. For fourteen years, I attended a Catholic National Plus school outside of Jakarta. To a great extent, the sex education in school promoted celibacy. Unfortunately, as a price students did not learn about prevention and protection from pregnancy, STDs and HIV/AIDS. Many of the schools in Indonesia only advocate celibacy and leave out the issue of prevention and protection. In order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS I believe that it is important to educate the consequences of unprotected sex and ways to have protected sex. Condoms, birth-control pills, medical examinations, etc. should be available to the public. 

The Warning Signs
Indonesia still has a long way until it can combat HIV/AIDS effectively. Bridges between various ethnicity, religion and educational background need to be built in order to develop ways to prevent the spread of the disease. Ultimately, the whole of Indonesia needs to work together to prevent more infection of HIV/AIDS. 


*The photos were supplied by the author

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