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Collaborating with the Local Community, Harita Nickel realizes a AIDS-free Obi Island

11 December 2023

Harita Nickel, an integrated nickel processing company, is committed to maintaining public health, especially around the operational area of Obi Island, South Halmahera, North Maluku. One of them is by supporting the government's target of an AIDS-free Indonesia by 2030. 

By collaborating with the local community, the company is optimistic that it can break the chain of deadly virus spread in its operating area on Obi Island.

Panji Setyadi, Harita Nickel's Community Development Superintendent, said that efforts to prevent and eliminate HIV/AIDS cannot be undertaken by one party alone, but require the involvement of various stakeholders. He believes this spirit is in line with the 2023 World AIDS Day theme, "Moving together with the community to end AIDS by 2030."

"That's why we have representatives from the local government, specifically the health department, youth, vulnerable groups, and people living with HIV/AIDS (ODHA) to give testimonies," he said during a socialization event held at the Subdistrict Health Center in the new settlement of Kawasi Village on Friday, December 8, 2023.

Panji continued that the recent AIDS awareness campaign held a few days ago was a manifestation of the company's social responsibility to the surrounding environment. He acknowledged that the industry's presence on Obi Island has attracted migrants from various regions in search of better opportunities.

"We hope that through this educational program, residents and at-risk groups will become more vigilant against the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, so that the cases in Kawasi Village can be reduced to zero," he added.

Husein Al Hadar, Head of the Disease Control and Eradication and Environmental Health Division (P2PL) of the South Halmahera District Health Office, revealed an increase in HIV/AIDS cases in his area over the past three years. He explained that from 2020 to 2022, there were a total of 88 cases. The latest data from June 2023 shows an additional 22 cases.

In response, he added that the local government is actively conducting community awareness campaigns on the dangers of AIDS and preventive measures through various media. In addition, they are proactively conducting surprise inspections and tests at various nightlife venues.

Husein also addressed the vulnerability of the village of Kawasi due to the massive development of the industry. According to him, a once quiet village has now become densely populated, even busier than Labuha, the district capital. This brings both opportunities and threats, including the spread of AIDS.

"We are grateful that the company has organized this activity for the benefit of all. It is not only for at-risk groups, but for the entire community to be more aware of the dangers of HIV/AIDS and what can be done for prevention," he explained, urging that such activities be continued.

The awareness campaign was conducted in two sessions targeting different audiences. The first session involved dozens of high school students to increase their awareness and knowledge of the dangers of HIV. The second session involved 57 nightlife workers, identified as the most vulnerable group for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially HIV. Following the awareness session, the at-risk group was tested by the health department team.

During the awareness campaign, the company also invited people living with HIV/AIDS (ODHA) to share their experiences. Zulfandi, an active member of LKS Nyinga Rimoi in Kota Ternate who is living with HIV, compared HIV/AIDS cases to the tip of an iceberg. Behind one positive case, he said, there are 100 people suffering from or potentially at risk of contracting HIV.

Based on his experience, Zulfandi, who was diagnosed HIV-positive in his freshman year of high school, said teenagers are the most vulnerable group to infection. This vulnerability arises because teenagers are in a period of self-discovery and curiosity to try new things.

"You are the only ones who can protect yourself. Parents can only supervise you at home, and teachers can help you at school. On the other hand, parents should not restrict their children too much. Instead, they should give them freedom and a sense of responsibility," he said in front of high school students and community representatives.

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