After arriving in Jayapura and getting situated, things didn't go as planned. Due to the holidays (Christmas & New Year), many organizations were closed and several of my contacts that could provide me with access and people that I want to photograph are out of town or busy with family matters.
Those who knows me personally thinks that I am a workaholic. But that's not entirely true, I prefer to stay productive. I can't sit around and wait things to happen. Plus, everyday I spend in Papua costs money so I have make sure it's worth while. To keep myself busy, I re-read hundreds of pages of research and compare them with recent data. I looked over my mission statement that I wrote for this project and visualize the kind of photographs that I would need to illustrate my objectives. I wrote down the people that I want to meet, interviewed, photograph, translated interview questions from English to Bahasa, checked flights to other cities in the region, cleaned my cameras and lenses, went to church on new year (it counts for the previous and current year) and explore Jayapura via walking and taxi.
But during my exploration of the city, I notice billboard signs along major roads connecting Jayapura to other nearby towns. These billboards are located in an area where thousands of people would easily drive or walk past them everyday. However, examining its content, these billboards are lacking some fundamental information, specifically mentioning condom as the most effective way in the prevention of HIV virus. In Papua, compared to Jakarta with a booming drug problem, HIV virus is transferred through sex almost all the time. However, not one mentions the word condom or even show how a condom looks like. The word HIV/AIDS is mentioned almost all the time but it doesn't explain what it is, how one would get infected to reduce stigma, where to get tested or counseling, and how to prevent infection.
According to National AIDS Commission (NAC), As of 2008 there are 15,000 condom outlets across Indonesia and that there had been 20 million condom distributed. However currently consistent condom use among Female Sex Workers is at 35%. Only 17% of men and women age 15-24 (more likely to be mobile, drink, and have sex at young age) reported they could condom on their own. Data from IBBS Tanah Papua (collected late 2006, published mid 2007) also indicated that the level of consistent condom use during sex is very low. Only 3.8% reported using a condom every time they had sex with a non-regular partner. Among females, consistent condom use was relatively high at 8.4%; while among males it was only 2.5% percent.
In Indonesia condoms are easy to buy. They are available in pharmacies, drug stores, supermarkets, and even in small retail stores. This means that it is easy to practice safe sex by using condoms, because it is easy to get and available anywhere. However, this situation only occurs in big cities, not in small towns or other rural areas like in Papua. Moreover, in Papua like in many other cities throughout Indonesia, Condom is associated with "shame" or "sin." The number one reason that most people don't use condom is because they don't know how or they are too shy to get one. Condom is important to reduce number of new HIV infection. However, this fact is not conveyed in these billboards and signs.
|Billboard next to Imbi Park, a popular place to buy sex. However, the bold message is written in English, which most people here doesn't speak or read. No mention of condom in preventing infection, rather a picture of a woman with a syringe.|
|Another Billboard next to BKKBN, "Reminder World's AIDS day, protect workplace from HIV/AIDS."|
|Another similar billboard on the main road like above "Reminder World's AIDS day, protect workplace from HIV/AIDS, " but competing with other billboards and next to a burning garbage dump.|
|A billboard on the main road to Sentani with Graffiti, it reads "We care."|
|A billboard with those two guys again that reads both in Bahasa and English, "Mingling is fine but improper mingling is no way." The sign targets promiscuity.|
|Old sign in front of a localisasi of Tanjung Elmo or the official place to buy sex in Sentani, the sign reads "Warning: It is prohibited to conduct prostitution in Tanjung Elmo." Obviously this sign is outdated.|