A Columban Sister tells her readers in her Peace Weekly column how she got involved in the work with HIV/AIDS patients. She was approached by an HIV positive individual who crying: "Sister, I have no place to go, I have AIDS you are the only one I can approach."
listened to his story and was greatly moved. She had no funds so
went to Cardinal Kim of Seoul and received help and that is the start of
the first shelter for those with AIDS. She continued to receive help for
She writes that more than having the disease
the worst is being shunned and stigmatized which gives more pain than than the body affliction. We have to do all we can, she says, to alleviate this
loneliness and alienation. They do not have a positive view of the
world. They are feared by many of the citizens which destroys the
quality of life of those diagnosed as HIV positive. HIV is not spread by day-to-day contact with those with the virus-- a well know fact.
of the patients: "Even those who I trusted and believed,
have this feeling towards me and because of me when I think of the pain
of my family all I want to do is hide and have nothing to do with the
In Korea when you have a disease make it
known, is a proverb, not true with AIDS. All you can do is keep silence, you become a displaced person.The prejudice is still strong
in Korea which makes the work of the Columban Sister difficult, and this
can be seen by not wanting her picture accompanying her column, but
only a blurred drawing.
On this blog in 2009, mention was made of an editorial in the Peace Weekly which said ignorance and
misunderstanding, causes a deep rooted prejudice in Korean society,
making it impossible even for a person diagnosed as HIV (a person with
the virus but not AIDS) to function in society. This means that it
remains hidden and does not get the care that will prevent more
cases. The facts are a person with the disease, with periodic check
ups, and treatment can function in society; that is not the case today
For ten years now the Church has with little publicity
been involved in the care of AIDS patients. It started when there was a
great deal of fear with anything to do with AIDS. There is still a
great deal of misunderstanding about AIDS. This is the reason that the
Church had difficulty publicizing the work with the sick. It is
estimated that there are about 6000 people infected with the disease in
Korea. Today it would be higher.
The Church will now
take a more active part in trying to
change the climate that surrounds the word AIDS. Someone has been put in
charge of the Red Ribbon Movement which will incorporate the present
works of the Church and look for government help in the future.
has a great deal to overcome for the proper understanding of what AIDS
is all about but has made big changes in its approach. The Church also
will be more involved in educational programs, publicity and helping
those who have the virus, to function in society. The number of those
committing suicide on knowledge of having the virus is extremely high
and the reason is that they are treated like those with leprosy in the
time of Jesus. There is a hope that the efforts of the Church will be
successful.The above words were written in 2009 and there has been some
change but with the absence of the picture of the sister, shows she still has to be circumspect about her work within society.