Non-governmental Organization and Social Movement

In response to the challenge of HIV-1 infection, since 1992, there have been 15 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) established in Taiwan to provide shelters, counseling, anonymous testing, social care and education for PLWHAs, vulnerable groups and the general public. As shown in Figure 5, there is only one NGO in the middle region and one in the southern part of Taiwan. It is worth mentioning that although there is no PLWHA NGO in Taiwan, we established a PWA Rights' Advocacy Association (PRAA) in 1997.

In 1999, a survey was conducted to understand the human right issues of PLWHA in Taiwan. Social workers from four NGOs which including the Living with Hope Organization, Taiwan Hemophiliac PWA Association, PRAA and Lourdes Home were trained to be interviewers. In total, 50 PLWHAs (45 men and 5 women) participated in the survey. The results showed that 16% had suffered from discrimination by medical staff and 30% had been refused or delayed help when they sought medical care. In terms of education rights, our 1999 survey showed that 2 PLWHAs were expelled and 3 were refused for admission by school authorities. Because of their status, 3 had lost their jobs, 3 had been offered early retirement, 5 had lost their prospects for promotion and 22 had experienced harassment from their employers. Three patients stated that their children had been taken away form them when they revealed their status. At present, PLWHAs in Taiwan are still restricted from taking tests to become government employees and professional technologists.

In 2002, a survey of 1,292 medical personnel from 42 hospitals island-wide showed that 42.9% of them are not willing to care PLWHAs and 97.6% think there should be a law forcing PLWHAs to disclose their seropositive status to medical personnel. (Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps, 2002).

To change the attitude of the general public toward PLWHAs, we invited family members of AIDS victims and volunteers to participate in floating a lantern ceremony at a riverside in Taipei City on World AIDS day in 1994. This memorial event has become an annual event since then (Figure 6). In 1995, we invited the Names Project to bring 576 AIDS quilts to Taiwan for a special exhibition at the Chiang Kai-Sheik memorial plaza on World AIDS day. The Taiwan AIDS Memorial Quilt Project was established under the Living with Hope Organization in the same year. In 2001, we invited the Photographer Network to Taiwan to show the "Positive lives" of PLWHAs from different Asian countries. The images of many pink and white lanterns floating on a river, colorful quilts displayed in front of the traditional Chinese theaters and big eyes staring at you from India, have shocked and moved many people in Taiwan.

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