Friday, February 12, 2010

Addressing the stigma of HIV/AIDS

The number of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)/AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) cases in the Philippines increases from the 3, 911 on May 2009, it increases to 4424 cases; but according to Dr. Susan Gregorio of Philippine National AIDS Council on their studies is says that as of 2007, there are already 7,500 cases reported and there are possibilities that it may reach 9,000 this year. Dr Gregorio mentions that there are situations that a possible carrier may not be aware that he or she has HIV because symptoms may appear 2 to 8 years after the infection, and the fear of the results hinders a patient to engage him/herself to a test.

During the Dialogue @ Starbucks last February 11,2010 at the Starbucks 6750 Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Wanggo Gallaga, a writer/editor in a leading lifestyle magazine shares how he was infected with the virus and how it affects his life. Wanggo openly says that he was “promiscuous” in his life before, enjoying the adventure he encounters and deals with drugs and unsafe sex. Wanggo said that we should know our sexual right, learning to say no to unsafe sex especially on women that mostly are victims if this circumstances. He firmly says that information and awareness is the only thing we have to stop the virus. Here is Wanggo's video during the dialogue:



With Wanggo is Jericho Paterno, who is a migrant and an HIV positive, he got the virus after having an affair with a Nepal migrant who is also working in the Middle East. After being diagnosed with the virus he was deported and afraid to face his family at first. Paterno thought that he will die soon after being diagnose, but he is thankful that he is still alive and has the chance to take part of the awareness campaign to avoid additional possible cases like him and Wanggo. He says that people should not look on HIV/AIDS as part of the problem, but see them as part solutions, and through this group of people who is infected with virus and came out in public with their stories and real identity it will help a lot on spreading the information to all. Here is the video of Paterno during the dialogue:



From the population of HIV/AIDS cases 75% where male having sex with male and 25% of male having sex with female. There are bigger tendencies that the virus can be transmitted to unsafe anal penetration according to Dr. Gregorio. In regards with the life support of the infected patients there are global aid supporting them but unfortunately as of now that aid will only last until 2012.

AIDS is part of the United Nation Millennium Goal which ranks at number six in the list, but despite of the support of all nations being members of UN, there are countries who implemented restriction on HIV/AIDS patients entering countries:
According to UN AIDS coordinator to the Philippines Teresita Bagasao, she says that UNAIDS is talking now with this country who restricts HIV/AIDS patients who enters their territory. "They are also people like them", Bagasao firmly says during our small conversation during the dialogue. People who has AIDS is considered as modern lepers and that is the stigma that infected cases and advocates wanted to address, that people who has the virus is the same people like us and they should be discriminated.

During the time of President Fidel V Ramos, he acted a law that will safeguard the welfare of HIV/AIDS patient and that is Republic Act 8504 or The Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, it states that the law will defend the HIV/AIDS patients from any form of discrimination from workplace, schools, hospital, and other establishments. Unfortunately the law may be powerful but its implementation is weak. There are cases of discrimination but the victim gives up avoiding further damage according to Dr. Gregorio, this revelation saddens me.

There are several ways on how the virus is transmitted, commonly through unsafe sex, blood transfusion; sharing of needles through drugs and direct passing of blood from the infected to non-infected person, child birth - a mother who is infected with the virus can pass the virus though her child, it is also form of direct blood transfusion, and lastly through breastfeeding, a newly infected mother can pass the virus to her baby though breast feeding.

For HIV/AIDS testing you can visit Social Hygiene Clinic - Manila Health Department, 2nd Floor of 208 Quiricada Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila, for inquiries contact for inquiries, call 711-6942 and look for Dra. Diana Mendoza or Ms. Malou Tan, Monday to Friday only from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Or you can call Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) at 7438301 local 2553 for counseling. Some of the accredited HIV/AIDS treatment hubs include Philippine General Hospital (PGH - contact number 5218450), San Lazaro Hospital (SLH - contact number 7408301 local 6000), and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM - contact number 8072628 local 801). For other AIDS Hotline you can call; Lunduyan Foundation INC (4214953), Pinoy Plus Association INC (5244507), Remedios AIDS Foundation INC (5240924), and Positive Action Foundation Philippines INC (8326239).

It's been almost a year now when I started by awareness campaign on HIV/AIDS through Think Positive a GMA 7's documentary, and finally involves myself as a blogger who advocates on this concern when I sat with a friend who confesses that he is an HIV Positive. Until now I never stop spreading the awareness on HIV/AIDS and firm with my stand, each one has a responsibility to spread the information and awareness on this matter, infected or not, I am not an HIV infected but I have the responsibility to myself to spreading the awareness and the learning I had in all AIDS/HIV forums I had to my readers. Have your stand now and take your part on this global issue. As all HIV/AIDS advocates say spread the awareness not the virus.

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1 comment:

Ishmael Fischer Ahab said...

There are recent reports on TV about the current increase of HIV/AIDS cases in the country. It is pointed out that the trend is due to the call centers that are present in the country.

Because of this news, all call center agents are stigmatized as carrier of HIV/AIDS virus. I have talked to some people about this news and they usually say that call center agents should be avoided. It is as if they are a great scourge like the rats during the bubonic plague in Europe.

What our need is awarenes and education about this disease. HIV/AIDS victims are not monsters that should be avoided. They need all the care that they could get. With that, I agree with you on some points raised here.

Another thing is that now is the time to re-evaluate our society. The sudden rise of HIV/AIDS is caused of the continued degradation of the Philippine society.

We must our society healthy. A healthy society leads to healthy individuals who are part of that society.

Continue your work Flow. Create awareness, educate, and hope that good tidings will come to those who are infected with HIV/AIDS.

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