By Michelle Soto | Image provided by The G Spot
On 23 August 2016, about 70 students and members of the public attended Being Positive: Living with HIV in Singapore. The event aimed to shed light on HIV, a disease so highly stigmatised that it is rarely spoken about.
Being Positive featured a panel of HIV-positive individuals who talked about their experience living with HIV in Singapore. They shared with the audience the heartwrenching moment they found out their diagnosis, the support networks they reached out to, and improvements they would like to see for individuals with HIV in future.
Students who attended the event agreed that it was very powerful to learn about HIV from people who are HIV-positive, as opposed to hearing secondhand information through a presentation.
“I think it’s important to learn about people who come from a diverse range of backgrounds, who may have perspectives and deal with problems you may never have thought about before,” commented Michelle Lee (Class of 2019), a student who attended the event. “It’s important to know and care about issues that affect everybody in your community.”
She added: “As liberal arts students, we should all exhibit intellectual curiosity… [We] have the ability to change the world in some way and therefore have a responsibility to educate ourselves both within the disciplines we care about and over a wide range of social issues.”
Being Positive was organised by The G Spot, a Yale-NUS student organisation focused on raising awareness on issues of gender, sexuality and feminism through community dialogues.
Daryl Yang (Class of 2018), Coordinator of The G Spot, shared that one of the reasons the group chose to organise this event was to illustrate that “every number has a story”, particularly with a disease like HIV that is often misunderstood.
“I wanted to create a space where people living with HIV could share their stories, allowing attendees to see beyond the numbers and statistics, and learn about the people affected by and living with the disease,” Daryl said.
Paul Jerusalem (Class of 2019), Social Co-Chair of The G Spot, noted that the structure of the discussion “allowed the disease to be humanised in a way textbooks are often not able to”.
“I think events like these are important so that awareness is raised and people can make lifestyle choices with more consciousness about possible risks and how to prevent them,” Paul said.
For Cheryl Cosslett (Class of 2018), conversations on these kinds of subject matters are “rare opportunities” in society. She’s happy that Yale-NUS students are working to initiate these conversations and hopes Being Positive will spark even more thought and discussion on campus about health and wellness.