Sikh Woman In Malaysia: The Face Of HIV/AIDS Victims

Langa(w)riters have posted on AIDS/HIV infection amongst Sikh women here and here. We have discussed issues around support groups and causes of infection. One of the number one risk factors for contracting HIV/AIDS for Punjabi Sikh women is marriage. Many women are infected by their husbands who are intravenous drug addicts and/or clients of prostitutes. Not only are these womens lives reaped with more havoc at no fault of their own, but there is also an insurmountable amount of stigma these women endure.

This past week, a Sikh woman, Kiranjit Kaur, stood up with tremendous strength and bravery to help combat this stigma. She become the poster-woman for people living with HIV/AIDS in Malaysia. At the age of 35, Kaur has decided to put her face to this disease because I am here to help the ‘positive’ community and empower them and tell them they are not alone.

Kiranjit Kaur contracted HIV in 1996 through her husband who was a former drug addict and has since passed away.

After contracting the disease she began working full-time with the Asian Pacific Council on AIDS Services as an advocate for other HIV/AIDS patients.

The Malaysia Sun reports that:

In 2005, when Perak mufti Da-tuk Seri Harussani Zakaria suggested HIV/AIDS carriers should be cast away on an island to make sure that they did not infect others, Kiranjit and four positive people had a news conference and imparted information about the disease. We are human beings. We hold jobs and we are productive. HIV/AIDS is not about people who go to prostitutes or drug addicts.

In an effort to shed light on married women and children who are unknowingly infected, Kaur refuses to play the blame-game of determining who is more of a victim an innocent housewife or a prostitute. She says:

It is in households. People say I’m a victim because I contracted it from my husband. But to a prostitute they say: ‘Oh, she deserves it’. It’s not about blame any more.

Ultimately, its about recognizing this disease exists in our community, providing support to those infected, combating stigma, and moving towards preventive solutions.

P.S. If anyone has found the poster of Kiranjit Kaur, it would be great if you could send me a digital copy ([email protected]) so we can post it! Ive been searching, but havent found it yet.


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24 Responses to “Sikh Woman In Malaysia: The Face Of HIV/AIDS Victims”

  1. Singh says:

    phulkari ji,

    1 – i think you are spot on with your assessment of the courage shown by kiranjit kaur. though "honor" and "saving face" are nothing unique to punjabi or indian culture – they are very real in our community – which makes what she decided to do difficult on many levels.

    2 – i wonder what the stats are for HIV/AIDs infection among indian communities in countries like the US, Canada, and England

  2. Singh says:

    phulkari ji,
    1 – i think you are spot on with your assessment of the courage shown by kiranjit kaur. though “honor” and “saving face” are nothing unique to punjabi or indian culture – they are very real in our community – which makes what she decided to do difficult on many levels.
    2 – i wonder what the stats are for HIV/AIDs infection among indian communities in countries like the US, Canada, and England

  3. Sundari says:

    It's empowering to hear what Kiranjit is doing. Women who are infected by their husbands have historically not spoken up about their infection. Hopefully Kiranjit will give this group that much needed voice…

    Singh, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) collects data on "Asian/Pacific Islanders" – South Asians are included in that category and APIs represent about 1% of total HIV/AIDS cases in the US [this is pretty significant considering that APIs only represent about 5% of the total population in the US]. As far as I know, separate data is not reported for South Asians by the CDC.

    I am not sure about the infection rates for Canada or the UK – but I imagine it is somewhat similar to the US. What is clear is that South Asians have the lowest HIV testing rates in both the US and Canada and that this failure to diagnose or resistance to seek medical care is contributing to increased infection rates among this community.

  4. Sundari says:

    It’s empowering to hear what Kiranjit is doing. Women who are infected by their husbands have historically not spoken up about their infection. Hopefully Kiranjit will give this group that much needed voice…

    Singh, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) collects data on “Asian/Pacific Islanders” – South Asians are included in that category and APIs represent about 1% of total HIV/AIDS cases in the US [this is pretty significant considering that APIs only represent about 5% of the total population in the US]. As far as I know, separate data is not reported for South Asians by the CDC.

    I am not sure about the infection rates for Canada or the UK – but I imagine it is somewhat similar to the US. What is clear is that South Asians have the lowest HIV testing rates in both the US and Canada and that this failure to diagnose or resistance to seek medical care is contributing to increased infection rates among this community.

  5. Nihal says:

    how many muslim womens in head scarf are put up as poster face for AIDS in Mulism Dominated Malaysia ?

  6. Nihal says:

    how many muslim womens in head scarf are put up as poster face for AIDS in Mulism Dominated Malaysia ?

  7. Phulkari says:

    Nihal,

    I do not know how many Muslim women wearing head-scarves are the poster-faces for AIDS in Malaysia. If you ever find anything, please do share it on this thread.

    I can imagine the negative stigma of being a HIV/AIDS victim is also insurmountable for these Muslim women.

  8. Phulkari says:

    Nihal,

    I do not know how many Muslim women wearing head-scarves are the poster-faces for AIDS in Malaysia. If you ever find anything, please do share it on this thread.

    I can imagine the negative stigma of being a HIV/AIDS victim is also insurmountable for these Muslim women.

  9. colon detox says:

    i wonder when are we going to have the cure for HIV/AIDS ? we are living on an age with very high technology but still we have not found a cure for this disease.

  10. colon detox says:

    i wonder when are we going to have the cure for HIV/AIDS ? we are living on an age with very high technology but still we have not found a cure for this disease.

  11. HIV / AIDS is one hell of a scary disease. we still do not have a cure nor a vaccine for it, so always practice safe sex.

  12. HIV / AIDS is one hell of a scary disease. we still do not have a cure nor a vaccine for it, so always practice safe sex.

  13. Jake Cullen says:

    HIV is a disease that is still incurable today. We should always practice safe sex and also educate our people how to avoid the spread of this disease.

  14. Jake Cullen says:

    HIV is a disease that is still incurable today. We should always practice safe sex and also educate our people how to avoid the spread of this disease.

  15. Ian Bell says:

    Thank goodness I found this blog. Been searching quite a bit for this type of information.

  16. Marc says:

    Married women are infected by their husbands who has aids? meaning to say their husbands are not loyal to them, they used prostitutes. This is a sign of infidelity.

  17. John Smith says:

    i wonder when are we going to have the cure for HIV/AIDS ? we are living on an age with very high technology but still we have not found a cure for this disease.
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  18. The most basic factor and cause for the today problem is the negative views and negative way of thinking of the people due to which peoples life got strict and rough and disturbing.

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