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.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


We bid farewell yesterday to our Yogi Babe. She left us.

No, silly! Not for good!

She's flying off today for Korea to attend and represent Yoga for Life at this year's International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, or ICAAP for short.

The 10th ICAAP will begin tomorrow, August 26, 2011, and will end on Tuesday, August 30, 2011, and will be held at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center or BEXCO in Busan, South Korea.

ICAAP is the second largest HIV and AIDS forum in the world, and is held every other year. The ICAAP becomes the venue for the release and discussion of scientific, programmatic and policy developments in the global response to the issues of HIV and AIDS. The co-convenors of ICAAP are the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific and the UNAIDS.

The theme of the ICAAP10 is “Diverse Voices, United Action.” By sharing knowledge and experience at the ICAAP10, the organizers hope that participants shall be able to step forward further to combat the HIV and AIDS epidemic as one. ICAAP10 offers a platform where the region can be united in action.

The overall objectives of this year's Congress include:
• To accomplish the theme “Diverse Voices, United Action
• To empower and strengthen political, community and business leadership
• To offer a platform for voices from Asia and the Pacific to reassemble
• To exchange and share achievements, successes and best practices
• To ensure those affected are free from stigma and discrimination
• To promote equal access to prevention, support, treatment and care

Participants from different nations in the Asia-Pacific region were invited to share their efforts to the community through oral and poster presentations, and each project falls into 1 of six categories or "tracks".

Track A: The evolving epidemiology of HIV in Asia and the Pacific
Track B: Advances in basic and clinical sciences
Track C: Meeting the challenge of Universal Access
Track D: Building and supporting leaders and advocates
Track E: Engaging communities for effective responses
Track F: Overcoming human rights, legal and policy barriers

I took a look at the roster of presentations, and saw that the Philippines is well represented in both oral and poster presentations. Some of the presentors I knew as fellow Yoga for Lifers, though they would be there representing different organizations. And some I recognized as fellow advocates from other NGOs. Some just caught my attention because their studies included the Philippines. And one, well, their names just sounded Pinoy... I just had to guess.

So here's the Pinoy contingent at the ICAAP:

Oral Presentations

Number 208, Track E
29 August, Monday, 10:50-12:00
"Who Will Take a Bakla Seriously?": HIV Risk of Filipino MSM and Transgender Persons as a Function of Gender and Sexuality Values
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Mikael Navarro

Number 212, Track E
29 August, Monday, 10:50-12:00
HIV Rapid Antibody Testing Among MSMs at Easter Weekend 2011 Festivities in Puerto Galera, Philippines
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Bric Bernard Bernas

Number 238, Track E
29 August, Monday, 10:50-12:00
I am POSI+IVE Campaign: Bringing the Voices of Young Key Populations to the Filipino Youth Communities
Corresponding Author: Igor Mocorro; Presenting Author: Vermont Arvesu

Number 253,Track E
29 August, Monday, 13:30-14:40
Motivations to Engage in Intentional Condomless Anal Intercourse (Bareback Sex) in HIV Risks Awareness Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Davao City
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Elizabeth Malonzo

Poster Presentations

Number 288, Track A
27 August, Saturday
Risky Behaviours Among Young Urban Professionals in the Philippines
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Richard Howard

Number 595, Track C
27 August, Saturday
Utilizing Internet and SMS Technologies to Provide Care and Support to Young MSM living with HIV: Experience from the Philippines
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Igor Mocorro

Number 845, Track D
27 August, Saturday
Churches as Channels of Hope for PLWHAs: World Vision’s Experience in Engaging Faith Communities
Corresponding Author: Alain Dizon; Presenting Author: Mary Grace Pasion

Number 1003, Track E
27 August, Saturday
Factors Affecting Success in Promoting AIDS Competence in Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Dusit Duangsa

Number 1253, Track F
27 August, Saturday
Seeking Redress for HIV-Related Violations of Human Rights
Corresponding Author: Manuel Guzman; Presenting Author: Ranier Ritchie Naldoza

Number 1264, Track F
27 August, Saturday
Barriers in Access to Justice and Legal Redress among People Living with HIV in the Philippines
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Jeffry Acaba

Number 653, Track C
28 August, Sunday
AIDS Stigma: Attitudes of Filipino Nursing Students about HIV and AIDS
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Igor Mocorro

Number 1145, Track E
28 August, Sunday
Impact of Anti-Prostitution Laws on HIV Prevention among Sex Workers in Quezon City, Philippines
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Jeffry Acaba

Number 932, Track D
29 August, Monday
I.Lead@GFATM Philippines: Empowering Young Filipinos Towards Meaningful Youth Involvement in the Global Fund
Corresponding & Presenting Author: Igor Mocorro

And last, but definitely not least...

Number 1199, Track E
29 August, Monday
Yoga for Life: Promoting Health and Healthy Behavior among People Affected by HIV and AIDS
Corresponding Author: Amanda Maud Jones; Presenting Author: Charmaine Cu-Unjieng

Yey! I'm honored to be part of the team who put together the Yoga for Life poster, so I will be in Korea in spirit... or more! Wink, wink!

So if you're in Busan this coming weekend, check out Yoga for Life and the rest of the ICAAP... and bring me home some Kimchi or K-Pop! Annyeong Haseyo!

For more about the ICAAP, visit

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