Yesterday, the National Parliament adjourned its meeting to attend a HIV and AIDS meeting where Maire Dupont and a Solomon Islands HIV positive woman provided awareness to the Parliamentarians.For the first time, a Solomon Islander has stepped out and broken barriers by exposing her status. For such a country as that of Solomon Islands where discrimination and stigma remains very high, this has been a step that takes great courage and confidence.
This was the step, Ms. Alice took as she stood among hundreds of Solomon Islanders yesterday during the World AIDS Day ceremony at the National Hospital and also at the National Parliament in front of Parliamentarians, when she addressed them.
In her emotional address, Ms. Alice encouraged Parliamentarians to help people living with HIV in the Solomon Islands and to work closely with her in tackling the disease. She especially encouraged them to allocate budget for the fight against the disease.
Ms. Alice stated that she acquired the virus from her husband and has been living with HIV for four years. She also has a very healthy 4 year old boy who is HIV negative.
Ms. Maire Dupont who is also HIV positive, in her address stated that HIV is not an issue of funding but an issue of leadership. She urged Parliamentarians to include HIV in their law or policy and to carefully look at the budget and allocate little for those who are suffering from HIV and AIDS.
She said that it does not need too much of an allocation or budget, "but it is a task that you can play as a leader and to do something for the people. Let us make HIV a global issue so that we think strongly about it and secure funds from the global funding."
She stated that amongst other duties, she is currently in the country to set up a HIV Support Group Center in the Solomon Islands. Ms. Dupont stated that Ms. Alice will be the Director of the Support Group and it will be aimed at helping people living with HIV and for families who are living with someone with the virus.
Taking such a brave step, Ms. Alice has shown Solomon Islanders that a person can live a normal life despite their status.