HIV Education Centre AIDS Festival 2011
Organised by St. John’s Cathedral
“Different Voices, United Action” Speech by Mr LAM Woon-kwong, Chairperson, Equal Opportunities Commission
Good afternoon. It is a pleasure for me to be here. Thank you to St. John’s Cathedral HIV Education Centre for inviting me.
It is very heartening to see so many people here, joined together by our common vision for equal access to quality health care and life-saving knowledge. We are also united by our fight against unfair prejudices against those living with HIV and AIDS.
I want to take a moment to recognise the work of St. John’s Cathedral HIV Education Centre. Since the Centre opened its door in 1995, it has been an important provider of services to those seeking information and assistance on HIV/AIDS. They have also contributed to raising awareness on HIV/AIDS with the general public through initiatives such as this fair, publications, surveys, and training sessions.
The EOC has worked closely on several of these initiatives with St. John’s to promote knowledge of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance and the Race Discrimination Ordinance. We have also worked with St John’s and other organisations in the fight against the stigma faced by people living with HIV and AIDS.
We have come a long way, but much remains to be done to change public perception of people living with HIV and AIDS. Often still, we hear stories of lost jobs, verbal abuse, and psychological pain. Stigmatisation and discrimination rob people of their right to live a life of dignity. It can cause people to hold themselves back from life-saving treatment. It also interferes with the wider fight against the AIDS epidemic as a whole by causing people to delay necessary testing and care.
So as long as bias remains alive, the road ahead of us will remain long. Still, I am hopeful after seeing so many of you here today, working tirelessly for this cause.
I am a firm believer that real change comes from the people. Some of you who are here may be living with HIV/AIDS, or you may know someone who is. If you or someone you know face discrimination because of HIV/AIDS or other disabilities, I urge you to contact the EOC and exercise the right to protection under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance. We will try our best to help, and you are not alone.
Some of you may be here today because you simply want to learn, enjoy the day’s many activities, or lend a hand. Though we may have different voices, we are united in our action. With your passion and that of many others in this city, we can keep moving forward.
The EOC looks forward to working with you. Thank you, and enjoy the day.