Aids council vows to fight challenges

National 2 minutes, 4 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Brunei Darussalam Aids Council (BDAC) is currently facing several challenges in keeping its outreach programmes afloat, but its president said it is determined to continue creating awareness about HIV.

According to a recent report by Global AIDS, Brunei saw a rise in HIV infections last year with 12 new cases reported, taking to 93 the cumulative number of cases recorded here.

Out of the 12 new cases, seven were infected through unsafe homosexual intercourse, one heterosexual and four through unknown routes of transmission. Last year saw Brunei record its highest annual increase in HIV cases.

BDAC President Iswandy Ahmad told The Brunei Times that while many know about HIV here, but there is a need to go beyond just the knowledge of the subject.

He said this means educating the public about abstaining from risky sexual activities, and being faithful to one’s spouse, among others.

Currently, the NGO delivers one main programme a month in advocating to the public regarding HIV prevention. However, he said because the organisation runs with the help of volunteers, sustainability of the programmes was a challenge.

“As our members have commitments with their careers, study, and family among others, the continuity of our programme can be a challenge. For example, our peer educators or life skills training can only be done during school holidays, as some of our facilitators are teachers,’’ he said.

The BDAC currently has 50 active members.

Iswandy commended the volunteers for providing their support and expressed the council’s appreciation to them.

He called on people willing to assist the Aids Council to it.

“We are not actually a ‘recruitment NGO’, where we rely on big numbers of volunteers, but rather, we provide training and skills for our volunteers to become peer educators, so they can reach out to the community,’’ he said.

Separately, the BDAC faces funding issues to ensure the sustainability of its programme, he said.

“We do not have continuous funds coming in, so we rely on donations and fees. So looking into conducting fundraisers is something we need to do,’’ he said.

Iswandy said, however, that their priority remains to advocate, educate and empower Bruneians on raising awareness on HIV.

“There is a plan to make a video in spreading awareness about HIV, and hopefully we can produce it really soon,’’ he said.

He added that were are plans under way to conduct a capacity building training course on HIV, teenage pregnancy and STD awareness among educators next year.

The Brunei Times