Karate teacher strikes back against HIV/AIDS

This story comes from FH staff member Renee Targos.

Through Food for the Hungry's HIV/AIDS program in Haiti, people are winning the fight.

Jure Gaston lives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Once a physically strong man working as a karate teacher, Jure became so ill he was unable to stand. He didn't understand what was happening to his body or how to care for himself. He mentally prepared himself to die.

Jure (above) tested positive for HIV/AIDS years ago, but today lives a healthy life. He says he refuses to have his spirit broken-not by the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010 or HIV/AIDS.
Speaking out against discrimination

After being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Jure joined FH's Community Health and AIDS Mitigation Project. The program supports men and women living with HIV/AIDS with social support and education. Today, Jure speaks out about HIV/AIDS to educate Haitians and break down the walls that isolate so many living with the disease.

Most HIV-positive Haitians keep their disease a secret for fear of social rejection and economic discrimination. Dr. Marlene Adrien, Food for the Hungry (FH) health programs manager in Haiti, says that if a community finds out “a person has AIDS … they will push that person away.”
Dr. Adrien (above, right) knows stories of HIV-positive Haitians who were put outside with animals when sick with common influenza. She says that people don't understand how the disease is spread and reject people that are infected.
Demystifying the disease

Jure hopes that through education and care, adults and children diagnosed with the disease will find a future and a way to use their gifts. He also hopes that stigmas will decrease.

“All the people I used to be friends with, they would talk bad about HIV-positive people without knowing that I am HIV-positive,” says Jure.

He wants people like his old friends to know they are safe around him. “I'm just an HIV carrier, but I'm not sick. I've learned how to have a healthy life.”

Jure has resumed teaching karate but also has become passionate about helping others to have hope.


“Now I am another person,” he says. “I am treated, and I'm in good shape. I was not in peace years ago, and now I am peaceful. And I'm going to teach others, so they can have the same peace and have a fruitful life.”


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