USHERING in the year of Rat, Eastin Hotel Penang’s management staff and its General Manager Dianne Tye, celebrated the auspicious Chinese New Year with the residents of Community Aids Service Penang (CASP).
The team was well prepared to bring happiness and surprises to the residents of CASP when they drove into the porch area of the home. The event started with Eastin Hotel Penang staff being briefed on the World of People Living with HIV. Although the services of treatment, support and assistance were more advanced than when it first began way back in the 80’s, yet CASP still faces many challenges and obstacles mainly as a result of stigma and ignorance from the society. Among the topics discussed are about myths and facts of HIV transmission and AIDS, treatment options, treatment side effects and methods of safer sex practices.
Eastin Hotel Penang donated products and goodie bags to every one of them. About 2 cartoons of mandarin oranges were distributed to the patients to symbolise abundance and good fortune. According to the chairman, En Amir Hamzah, the biggest challenge in HIV/AIDS continues to be the eradication of the stigma and discrimination by society on those afflicted with HIV, which in turn hinders HIV testing, disclosure of HIV status, and proper dispersion of antiretroviral therapy and retention in care.

CASP had its humble beginnings in 1989, offering counselling through phone calls. It later evolved into having full time staff offering outreach services to HIV-positive clients and sex workers, with the help of a few volunteers.

CASP Operation Manager, Ms Kuga said that due to financial and health constraint, some of them are unable to celebrate this meaningful festive season with their love ones. Thus, it was the perfect time to celebrate their celebration by bringing smiles and joys to them and to show appreciation for their invaluable contributions to the society. The team left with new profound respect for the dedicated volunteers and better understanding of HIV and AIDS.

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