Let us work together in advocacy vs HIV/AIDS - HIV patient
by Lito Dar
Baguio City (7 December) -- 'Be part of the healing process, we don't ask for sympathy, we want love to die with dignity'.
This was the message of Robin, a 35 year old male HIV patient, during his testimony at the World Aids Day celebration hosted by the Baguio Aids Watch Council (AWAC) at the Baguio Convention Center last December 3.
Speaking before the AWAC members and the entertainers from the different bars and nightspots workers in Baguio City, Robin shared his life experience. He formerly worked in an international escort service that caters to both foreign and local tourists but in 2003, he has been diagnosed as HIV positive.
'What the country needs now are sustainable programs to support patients like me and for everybody to help in the advocacy against HIV/AIDS. Magsama-sama tayo para sa advocacy, the disease is already there and there is no known cure yet,' Robin stressed.
Carrying the same advocacy, Anne, a mother of four, and an HIV positive patient also shared her testimonial. According to Anne, her husband, a very good civil engineer and a pastor in their church worked as an Overseas Filipino Worker. However, in 1993 he failed his medical examination so he did not go back abroad.
According to Anne, her husband never told her that the reason why he failed his medical examination was because he was diagnosed as HIV positive.'Noong malapit na siyang mamatay sa lang niya sinabi na may HIV siya. By 1999 na siya ring taon na mamatay siya, ubos na ang lahat ng kabuhayan namin dahil sa mahal ang gamot. Doon ako nagsimulang pasukin ng depression, economic, mental,and spiritual. Hindi ko na alam paano ko umpisahan alagaan ang apat naming anak. Pasalamat na din ako at walang nahawa ni isa sa kanila,' Anne said.
Anne hopes that the Anti Retro-viral (ARV) drug that are given to them for free would continue beyond 2012. The ARV drug being provided by the World Health Organization may only last up to that year.
Both Robin and Anne are members of the Pinoy Plus Association which is helping in the advocacy against HIV/AIDS in coordination with the Department of Health.
There are now a total of 5,729 HIV positive cases in the country. This represents less than one percent of the total population which means that the country is still on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of halting the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.
But the DOH is consistent in warning against complacency and in reminding the public of the ABC against HIV/AIDS - A for Abstinence, B for Be faithful to one's partner and C for the use of condom.
As part of the local commemoration of World AIDs Day, the AWAC, through the City's Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) headed by Dr. Celiaflor Brillantes held the fifth annual HIV/AIDS Conference entitled "Moving Towards Change?Towards a Clean Entertainment."
According to Brillantes, the City Health Services Office in coordination with the Baguio City HIV Surveillance Team and the Bars and Restaurants Association of Baguio City (BARS) have been doing a good job in maintaining a healthy environment for the city's registered night entertainment establishments.
Based on City AWAC data, since surveillance started in 1992, a total of 41 HIV/AIDS cases were recorded in the city including 17 deaths. 28 of the 41 cases were male and age ranges from 17 to 45 years old.
Of the total HIV/AIDS cases, 19 of them were Overseas Contract Workers, two were sexually active female, three wives of person with HIV, two foreigners, three were blood donors, 11 MSM (Men having Sex with Men) and one sexually active male. (PIA) [top]