Thursday, February 28, 2008


“This evening I am here to talk on behalf of the people living with HIV/AIDS.
“Do anyone here has seen a HIV positive person?
“If not, the person talking to you is a HIV positive one”.
Those are the words of Mr. Temo Sasau in his opening remark during the Solomon Islands Red Cross volunteers orientation on Thursday 21st February 2008 in Honiara.
Temo, a Fijian who diagnosed this killer disease in 2006 through heterosexual encounter visited our office to assist in a SI Red Cross organized volunteers orientation in dissemination of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross.
According to Temo the first time he knew about his HIV status when he was very sick & admitted in Suva Hospital for nearly three months in 2007.
“During that time a distance used to be 15 minutes walk to work took me nearly 2 hours to reach there.
“I was so weak & had to rest & leant along posts or trees along my way.
“When I looked at myself in the mirror I thought it was a ghost I have seen. Because I lost 39 kg”, he said.
Now he takes antiretroviral tablets daily. He said to live on antirevtroviral is not easy because there is a special commitment one has to ensure he or she must not miss one consumption, otherwise it could all go back to zero in regard to the effectiveness of the drug.
When talking about people’s reaction to his HIV status he said has gone through suffering from discrimination and stigma even from some of his own family members. Because he had prepared to face such treatments he accepted them.
But the only thing he was worried about was his son (the one he loved the most & cared for alone since he was a baby) otherwise he would face the same fate as his father.
“But there were some accepted me & hugged me. And those are things we need.
“We are longing for love, respect, & acceptance.
“The first people I told them about my status were those from Red Cross. I trusted them because of their role in protecting human dignity & health regardless of what- they accepted me”, Temo commented.
Three important messages he put to people here are;
· Knowledge about HIV/AIDS is not enough. He knew about this sick since 1993. Temo said we need to add on by saying that those who are practicing to multiple sexual partners need to change their behavior to one partner for life.
· To married couples, when you have family problems among yourselves it is better to sort them out harmoniously. Broken marriages sometimes can lead to the situation where Temo is in.
“I got this sickness after my wife left me with a baby (Abraham) to care for, so I tried to find someone to be at home for us but I clicked on a wrong one”, he said.
His wife returned in November last year after she knew he had diagnosed the virus, to care for him and his son whom has been tested negative.
· To prevent the spreading of the HIV/AIDS starts from individual by practicing safer sex and help in fighting it. As leaders we need to inform people through awareness at all levels of society to know & unite to fight it.

This article has been authorized by the interviewee (Temo Sasau of Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation) while in Honiara for the Young Journalists workshop on February 2008.