Sri Lanka Hopes HIV Test Program Will Help Dispel Myths and Curb Disease’s Spread

By Nirasha Piyawadani, Reporter.

Sri Lanka, which has seen a year-on-year increase in HIV, will be the first in Asia to conduct a new testing program. Peer educators in high-risk groups will bring the test, which aims to boost the number of reported cases, into their communities.

MORATUWA, SRI LANKA — When Sarath Peiris found out that he was HIV positive, he says, he was handcuffed and questioned by South Korean government officials.

Peiris, now 47, had gone to South Korea as a migrant worker in 1995, and didn’t know his HIV status until he had minor surgery there seven years later. South Korean officials deported him after his status was confirmed. When he arrived back home in Sri Lanka, he says, his family and neighbors shunned him.

“What I have learned is that lot of people in Sri Lanka and in the world are not aware of HIV,” he says.

INSIDE THE STORY: A GPJ reporter attends a press conference on a whim and discovers a story that soon captured the attention of a nation.

He says his family now accepts him.

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