Celeb cheer for AIDS patients

DEPRESSED and hurt were the feelings of the patients at the Community AIDS Service Penang (CASP) as there is no greater pain than being abandoned by your loved ones when you need them the most.

But for a brief reprieve, the nine patients cheered up when singer Dayang Nurfaizah and actress Umi Haida visited them at the shelter at Jalan Thomas on Friday.

Set up in 2006, the shelter cares for patients who have been abandoned by their families.

The two celebrities had volunteered to be part of the Red Ribbon Celebrity Support Programme 2009/10, a campaign organised by the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC).

A patient who only wanted to be known as Mamu, 55, said: “I was referred to the shelter by the Penang Hospital some five months ago.

“I had a fall and was admitted to the hospital, and checks by a doctor showed that I haveHIV. I don’t know how I got it. I used to be a chain smoker but have since stopped.”

Former house maid Jayanthi, 48, said her employer was the only one who visited and brought gifts for her when she was struck with the disease.

“I have nine siblings who are not bothered about me at all. When I working, my brothers were the first ones to stand in front of me on pay day. Now when I go back for Deepavali, they don’t even allow me to step into the house,’’ said the diabetic patient.

Earlier, Dayang sang ‘Dayang Sayang Kamu’ to the patients.

“I hope to come up with an album soon and dedicate it to HIV/AIDS patients with the proceeds going towards charity,” she said.

Umi said: “With proper medication. patients can even go out to work. I feel celebrities and the media can work together to create awareness about HIV/AIDS.”

MAC executive director Bakhtiar Talhah said besides the two celebrities, television host Owen Yap also visited the Maycare Centre in Seberang Jaya on the same day.

CASP administrator Elizabeth Thomas said due to space constraint, the shelter could only take in 10 patients at a time.

Estee Lauder Group of Companies managing director Loo Kai Nan later presented a RM61,330 cheque to the Malaysian AIDS Foundation.

The money was collected through the sales of Estee’s lipstick range called ‘Viva Glam’.

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