By Dr. Fardad Doroudi (UNAIDS Iran)
On February 14 2012, for the very first time in the country since the emergence of the first HIV cases in history, Tehran Positive Club celebrated Valentine’s Day to show love and friendship among its members. The occasion was planned based on results of the researches conducted by Tehran Positive Club (TPC) under a programme entitled “Positive Match Making” to reduce stigma and discrimination and to encourage young PLHIV to start families. For this purpose, the participants were invited one day in advance.
A welcome speech marked the start of the celebration. Following by initial notes on the purpose of celebrating the day, the couples were requested to voluntarily share their success stories and helpful experiences in five to ten minutes with other members. In addition, two single members (one female and one male) were asked for their opinion on the impact of having other members’ experiences and were also requested to share their future plans to start a family. Shortly after that, the most newly married couple of the Club were invited to blow out candles on the Valentine’ s Day cake on behalf of all.
During this small event, HIV negative partners of discordant couples were acknowledged for their significant role and for proving that with observing prevention principles those with negative status could live happily with PLHIV . With no doubt, presence of HIV negatives together with PLHIV while exchanging experiences could have a great impact in decreasing stigma and discrimination among those who are affected as well as other members of the society and it is expected that such like interventions strengthen the foundation of families. Therefore, initiations of this kind will be promoted in the future in order to reduce stigma and discrimination among public by gradually changing their mindsets.