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Women's voice for a better living in the future for the poor, the hunger, the sick and the victimized - the HIV stigma!

Chennai, GHTM

In the 19th century we might know that HIV/Aids is a men's disease; however in this 21th century more women with HIV/Aids. In several countries in the South East Asia region the proportion is becoming 5 women to 7 men.
This condition is truly a deep concern, especially when we talk prevention of mother transmission to child.

I heard and I saw women living with HIV/Aids; who were mostly inconvenience compared to men living with HIV/Aids.
When I visited several shelters in Thailand, it is reported that women housewife were reported contaminated HIV by the husbands; however they 'pushed away' the wives; so they have to go out finding their destiny in shelters.
Another story came from India, if the women were positive HIV; the mother in law is noted asking the wife to dedicate her life for family. Many women lost opportunity to get treatment though the ART is free. Stigma is there for HIV/Aids to 'stay away from them', and worse for women. .
In Nepal, many wives from migrant workers got contaminated as 'the bonus' after the husband back from travelling. They are not aware of the risk nor even received information to empower them.
Many years after, most of the above women shall become the poor, hunger, sick and still be victimized in HIV/Aids!

It is noted, after gender programme is implemented more women came to get treatment, more women become agents for changes. Most women are willing to sacrifice. They forgot totally in order to help others they need to help themselves first. How come sick person can help health person properly? The health person may turn to be sick instead.

The 2010 Voice of women may reach them faster through the WEB 2.0; to sound the gender equality that they have equal access and opportunity to receive treatment; to handle the disease and keep living productively. They may get link to insurance and life skills.
The Voice of freedom may prevent more people not being contaminated by the disease with proper protection using either male or female condom.

Let's keep the voice up!
Eliminate stigma HIV/Aids - help women not to be the poor, the hunger, the sick and victimized!

with prayer,
Erna Surjadi



Lilith784's picture


Hello Erna,
thank you for your post. It sounds like you have a lot of expertise and insights into this important subject. If you want, join this group on living with HIV: I am sure your contributions will be appreciated.

Erna Surjadi's picture

HIV Stigma

Dear Andrea,

I have worked for HIV/Aids since 1995 specially for young people in my country as Chief of awareness team for HIV awareness within higher education for 209 institutions.Everybody has rights to health so I keep working up to now for a better living.
I am old a granny of one grandson; it will be delighted to join the group . As medical person I am happy to give and share what is important and make people stronger to face the life.
Positive thinking is a flow of happiness!


Christine L's picture

Great Advocate

Hello Erna,
You are a wonderful advocate for women and also for increasing awareness about the HIV/AIDS disease. Your work is inspirational and I agree that using Web 2.0 will increase awareness for what you do. Thank you.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”- Mahatma Gandhi

Erna Surjadi's picture

We are agents of changes!

Hello Christine,

Thanks for your wonderful words; it keeps me stronger to stay around the mission.
In reality, we are facing so much incredible world but also unexpected situations.
My spirits and sincerity with trust in God keep me surviving.

I have done many programmes and activities due to I am career woman; however in reality men is always around and sadly women are not even around as the decision makers to support us. If they are presents, in small percentage only; they dont understand the gender movement and they tend to follow men, maybe unconciously, as their role model.

My first team HIV/Aids programme was launched in 1995; I was the chief and there were another one woman and three men. We succeeded made two Ministers met (Minister of Health and Minister of Education) for one day seminar for HIV/Aids awareness for 209 higher education institutions in Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang and Bekasi. No initial resource mobilization; just by advocacy and seminar fee; however the Ministry of Education provided place and facility free of charge. At that moment the institution I represented as Director of Administration and Finance also put positive support.

However, sadly we've been out of the stream after we submitted the proposal and programme; though we've been backed up by the higher official. It seems that no body believed that woman could do something though they used the ideas.

Recently, I worked also for international organization for more than 4 years. The gender sensitivity and HIV/Aids programmes was proved increasing women's access from 31% to 51-57% at Chennai. However, again the efforts for reaching the rest of the women (statistically HIV/Aids for W:M=5:7; 70%) has not being moved as expected; while the men supervisor could do better to support the proposal.

Unexpected bureaucracy is mostly around when dealing with men. Sadly, when you are in struggling, no other women would be in your side either. They are waiting for 'good chance' to get your 'sounding' position or even higher by following the men.
We, as women, need to promote gender equality started from home/family, society, community, nation and the world! However we forgot gender harmony. From APEC Women's leaders Network - it is noted that successful women are being supported by men network; not women's. Sad but true.

I like your mission that I read from your profile - we have similarity, we need to support each other.
The challenges to push also women's perception to be unity is noted. Gender disparities are exist but together we may solve the situation and get the resolution for a better world between men and women within gender harmony.

I have involved in ICT for more than 20 years; thus I think no other way better than this to sound the missions.
We can reach out the people directly and better through voices and ICT.
No need to fear about fraud, victimized by bureaucracy, attacked by mafia or power abuse, no more tears for being victimized within powerless situation and no sound is allowed within the patriarchal society; while your health is deterioting.

I have gained my family support in gender harmony since 7-10 years ago; this is my valuable investment that helped my career, health and financial indeed. I could past all journeys in my life lately due to the strong support of my husband and my sons.
I studied sociology and gender which made me stronger in academic; experiences in international and national made me put positive thinking - they dont know what they are doing; but I know what I am doing to help women and family.

I came back to my nations, my people and gender missions regardless all of patriarchal trauma, organizational behaviour and age; with deep concern to put people as the proper beneficiaries to get the rights to health, right-holders to suitable life - just jumping over the property line. The most powerful controller is God - I believe He always with the Truth, protect us and may give justice when time is arrived.. May He give us strength as needed and give happiness as we are longing for..

My long experiences, struggling, people sadness/happiness, trauma, fear, abusive environment, collar crime and so on are dedicated to all women and family - for a better world in the future within gender equality and equity.

Positive thinking is a flow of happiness..
We do the positive ones and let's God manage the negative ones..
So I hope to help others more and more.. while I still could...
All the best, ladies!

with best wishes,

a grand mother, mother, wife, career woman, sister, daughter of a 78 years old great woman and friend to all women with the same mission to be agents of changes - gender harmony and equity!

Ladybug's picture

Reflection on "HIV stigma"

Erna, I really enjoyed reading your post.

It is clear that your extensive professional experience has granted you a unique perspective on this devastating disease, which you have channeled into advocacy.

It is a compelling piece that describes the rejection and subsequent isolation that women with HIV/AIDS can face as well as underlining the importance of empowering women by eliminating social stigma.

You present a very practical application of Web 2.0, beyond just creating a dialogue around issues related to HIV/AIDS.

Great work!


Dear Catherine,

Thanks for your nice words.
I am grateful for what God has given me: health, supporting family, career, financial support and happiness; it's not happened by magic though. I feel obligated to pass the blessings through others as well.
God give me opportunities to get involved for so many experiences as health provider, facilitator, lecturer, manager, adviser, researcher, counsellor and friend to many people (ordinary, high level and politician) by purpose: to help people more, to show God's love as I believe I only the tool to deliver God's blessings to others and you.

I feel in touch with people within disadvantaged-conditions and situations; especially when they are powerless. It is our obligations to help them, to empower them, to open their eyes for another side of the world and keep the hope, faith and love forever towards a better living condition and situation in the future. We could be agents of changes!
I believe what comes from the heart touches the heart; this is the central of our voices to the world.
If this touched your heart and many others; let's raise up our voices to help them; eliminating stigma of HIV/Aids!

We have to understand that HIV/Aids is not contaminated by air; this is not an airborne disease, nor by touching.
The contamination may happen only through blood (including bite kissing, transfusion, pregnancy etc); sexual intercourse; and sharing injection needle. Doctors may have risk to be contaminated if exposed to the blood while they are having open injured by accident during the work; such as dentist, surgeon etc. Wives have also exposure to the disease if having sexual intercourse with un-safe husbands, such as: migrant workers, flying workers, sailors, marine crews and so on. It is noted that many housewives were contaminated by husbands due to they had no knowledge and preparation against the disease.
We may share this knowledge to protect ourselves and others from the disease.

In the other hand, social stigma has given so much hurt and life difficulties to the people living with HIV/Aids. Several persons admitted that the health providers 'pushed them away' from regular clinic when they were sick; they could not get help even for light and regular people diseases; such as flu and cough. The health providers may use standard operating procedures using gloves and maskers to give treatment and therapy; but they are scared and tend to stay away from the sick people. We know now more NGO give services to them; and special HIV clinics are opened. The concern now is about more women got contaminated; including to young people.
We know women is the future for next generation; also the young people as future of the nations. What happen to this world if we can not protect women and young people?

When I heard the stories from ICAAP9, International Conference on Aids for Asia and the Pacific 2009, in Bali - I could not stand it, my tears were dropped. One lady mentioned after being pushed away from one place to another place with no help; she felt frustrated and realized it is useless to waste the energy.
What they are doing then? They are gathering with the group, helping each other; including sexual intercourse and finance; while healthy community let them live with no help!

Long journey within lonely environment has led them into poor, hunger and marginalized society; while now the impact goes to the healthy housewives and innocent babies!
It's time for us to sound the spirit - no body want to get sick, no body want to get problems; though we know no day without problems. Let give them the rights to health, rights to live and eliminate the stigma!

We may not give the help directly - but by sounding their voices and choices: it is hoped their future living is better!
They may have more productive daily life and be stronger; and by God's grace we may eliminate this disease for ever!
May this touches everbody's heart to help people living with HIV/Aids; especially women and children.

Have a blessed day!


sarahgustavus's picture

Information is Power


Your essay brought to mind the statement "Information is Power." You seem be very dedicated to bringing more resources to women who have been ignored in the past. I like your description of how you can see the web used to get information to women faster and more effectively so they can help improve their lives while learning to live with HIV.


Erna Surjadi's picture

Provider and user of information

Dear Sarah,

I am glad that you agree to the statement "Information is power". This is stated by Michael Foucault in 2000.
I am involved and got direct experiences with the information matter due to I worked for more than 20 years in a computer unit in Ministry of Health RI and Ministry of Women Empowerment RI.

I remember in 1981 I had strong reluctance to be moved to this area due to I was enjoyed so much working in rural areas for school, mother and child health. However, the Head of provincial health office had strong belief to develop the human resources consist of medical personnel for health information system. I could not go away after they gave computer aptitude test and I was number 2 from the top. My husband is engineer and he encouraged me to accept the offer to study computer. I spent about three years study and practicing in the field with top enjoyment. I never regretted become the women ICT. I enjoyed a lot being system designer and analyst, lecturer, facilitator and developer of the information system assessment and development. It is 'running in my blood' already.

The story of my movement and promotion from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Women Empowerment in 2000 was related to the mission to create women centre. Over here, I learned more about gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment.
Due to my background in ICT, automatically I designed and developed the gender and child information system; gender mainstreaming portal and child protection and welfare portal. I use the ICT to evaluate the women NGO in Indonesia and progress of Beijing Platform for action (BPFA). I found many fields are becoming easier due to ICT. I supported many higher official presentations with ICT, including for ministers. In this case they are users, while I was the provider.

In ICT, there is jargon "user friendly" - sometimes it made people misleading. I found people used SPSS but no knowledge about statistics. Thus within information we have to choose for being the user or provider. I think when pulsewire offered knowledge on Web 2.0, it is more advanced than being a user only. In fact we can learn more about ICT through internet by free of charge.

It is important that we know what we are doing. Very often people forgot that when talking to rural women is not the same talking to city girls and women. Talking to layman, sick, marginalized, discriminated, victimized, politician, officials are also not the same I believe; thus ICT may help and empowering you to support the process.

It is much satisfaction talking with ICT due to you save time, energy and cost of travel; but covered more people regardless the place and time.The need of interaction is covered within portal and other communication device.

The most crucial point within ICT environment is the fast growing method and technology.
Thus, eversince you started involving yourself in ICT you must realize the learning process about ICT is forever in your life - unless you decided to stop.
However, if you choose to be user only there are many features to get the benefits offered in the internet for your lifestyle; again with cautious.
Do you know that you can be enterpreneur by using the internet, we named it "E commerce". Many young women become success business women in Thailand using this facility.

FYI my time is almost over due to my age; but I think my experiences maybe useful for other women due to men are running faster in front of women; and in my era about thirty years ago only small percentages of women involved in ICT. The situation changed slowly after 2000. This Pulsewire might make incredible changes in the future.

So this is time for all of you young ladies, go get the power in information!
Be the agents of changes using the ICT!

Have a blessed day!

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