Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008

World AIDS Day 2008November 30th – a national holiday, Bonifacio Day, but oddly moved to December 1st. December 1st – not normally a big day, especially in a country whose Christmas season starts on the first day of the –ber months. But this year, I was expecting something more. December 1, 2008 was the 20th year of commemorating World AIDS Day.

Okay, I honestly needed to rethink if I was part of this momentous day, considering that, technically, I don’t have AIDS. But since I haven’t heard of any such HIV day, I invited myself to the party. It’s something to the level of my birthday getting observed only because it was just a couple of days away from my mom and dad’s birthdays. I encompassed myself in the celebration.

Pondering on the reason why it’s a day especially for AIDS just left me assuming it was started because there was a need to commemorate the lives lost to AIDS. But in this country where the existence of AIDS is almost unknown among the masses or maybe even denied, and in this day and age when medical advances have managed to enable people living with AIDS to live almost normal and healthy lives, the primary reason for commemorating World AIDS Day may just have shifted to a need for awareness and education. At least that’s what I thought.

So I spent the day at home, combing the web and the boob tube, looking for any signs of activity commemorating World AIDS Day in the Philippines. I did appreciate both Yahoo! and Yahoo! Philippines changing the banners on their web pages for this special day.
Yahoo! PhilippinesYahoo!Other than that, I was expecting Google to have something too, but saw nothing. No worries.

I then set might sights on local and cable television. I was mostly looking toward the early evening news for maybe activities within the metro commemorating World AIDS Day. But prior to that, I was on Velvet, where Extreme Makeover Home Edition replayed an episode featuring a single mom suffering from cancer, who made it her advocacy to adopt and care for children who had AIDS. It was still touching even though I’d watched it a handful of times before.

I also chanced upon a public service message by the show Salamat Dok of ABS-CBN on AIDS awareness. Short but good enough.

I then got a message from my poz-friendly friend telling me to turn to QTV, which I did. I locked myself in my room and flipped the TV on. The show Moms, hosted by Lani Mercado, Manilyn Reynes and Sherilyn Reyes, was in the midst of a discussion, thankfully, about the basics of HIV and AIDS.

There were three people on their panel. The two ladies were experts from the National AIDS Council and UNAIDS, while I was left questioning what organization the other guy represented. He wasn’t as articulate as the two ladies, and was even unsure of what the meaning of MSM was, even if he was the one who chucked the term out. MSM is a term used to refer to the at-risk group of Men who have Sex with Men. Other similar terms would be FSW for Female Sex Workers, MSW for Male Sex Workers, and IDU for Intravenous Drug Users. I’m proud to say I knew all that. So I was pissed, to be honest, and left asking who the hell this guy was supposed to be.

Apparently, his name was Rommel Franco, and he was HIV positive. Argh! And later, he said he was part of Pinoy Plus Association, one of our – ahem, ahem – advocacy groups. A bigger ARGH! from me.

Okay, I tried to be supportive. Tried. He looked decent on air, but, man! He had this dazed, worried and puzzled look on his face the whole time, and as my friend and I agreed, he wasn’t very confident with what he was saying. I dunno, it would’ve been better if the pusit representation was more… comfortable and sure of himself.

The show went on to reveal the facts and myths about HIV and AIDS, mentioning statistics that there is just a 1 in 1,000 chance to be infected sexually with HIV, that up to 80% of those infected do not know their HIV status, and the facts on the window period of 3 to 6 months. Very interesting, and I can only hope that many were able to watch and learn from them.

When the early evening news on ABS-CBN came on, there was a single item, featuring the status of HIV and AIDS in the Philippines, stating Department of Health statistics of 3,515 people in the Philippines infected by HIV, of which 800 are AIDS cases. So far, 310 deaths have been recorded to be AIDS-related. They also interviewed some itatago-natin-sa-pangalang-Jack person who is HIV positive. It was just a brief touch on HIV to commemorate World AIDS Day, but the disturbing part was the picture being shown to end the segment. It was an image of the hand of someone hospitalized, receiving something intravenously. That’s the sad picture of HIV, but not the norm. I was hoping they could show that we no longer suffer from HIV and AIDS, but live with it. Sigh.

I don’t know if GMA did a feature on it. I confess I’m a true-blue Kapamilya. Hehehe. But I heard they’ll be doing a feature on HIV and AIDS tonight on Reporter’s Notebook. Let’s see what they have in store.

So there, World AIDS Day went by for me with barely a pulse. The news on the teaser was still the bestest gift I’d received. But hopefully in coming years, the awareness we’ve been fighting for will be in full swing. For now, let me say to everyone, poz and not, Happy – and I mean Happy – World AIDS Day! Stay Negative, Think Positive!

World AIDS Day 2008



nice one again...... that is why i love reading this blog.... it always makes sense.

Anonymous said...

I was talking with my priest at church last sunday. he's a friend and is (now) aware of my status. Interesting is that he did his Master's thesis at theological college on ministering to HIV/AIDS patients. That was 20 years ago in London when HIV really did mean hospitals and death and that was the face of HIV/AIDS then.

Most interesting though and still ringing in my mind was a comment that he made that 'the face of HIV in the Philippines is 20 years out of date.' He's right. And until we can change that, nothing will change. Our biggest enemy to awareness is ignorance and outdated prejudice.

I've invited him to the Christmas party on the 12th. Hope you can go - I'll introduce you.

Stay positive buddy - change IS coming!