Human immunodeficiency viruses or HIV is a virus that weakens the body’s immune system, making a person susceptible to different infections and diseases. This condition is often caused by the exchange of bodily fluids from unprotected sex or through the shared injection of a particular drug. In severe cases, an HIV-infected person may manifest symptoms of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) when his/her body cells destruct, leading to functional difficulties.
According to the report of INQUIRER.net, the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau in the Philippines has registered 840 new infections since April this year, reaching a total of 4,274 cases–a higher value compared to that in 2017 and 2018. Hence, people who are identified as HIV+ have experienced getting insulted, harassed, or rejected once they’ve revealed the truth of their condition to their peers.
Dispelling myths and misconceptions in HIV
The HIV epidemic continues to perpetuate varying myths and misconceptions that result in ignorance and false information. According to Ending HIV, one of the most common misinterpretations is the possibility of virus transmission through kissing or exchange of saliva. The truth is that it is unlikely to happen unless you are kissing an HIV-infected person who has canker sores or bleeding gums–then in this scenario, the risk for infection is high.
It is also untrue that people living with HIV (PLHIV) look “sick.” The reality is that most of these individuals have the same outward appearance as any normal functioning human body–given that they will continue to receive treatment that will help stop the onset of AIDS. There are further medications offered to treat PLHIV, so those with the condition can live through their average life span. Therefore, HIV is not a “death sentence.”
Stop HIV stigma and discrimination
HIV stigma and discrimination are the main reasons why there are victims who are afraid to be treated. With the aid of various organizations from all over the world, activists are not only able to bring more awareness about the condition but they are also clearing out fear and reducing the stigma surrounding it.
Last July 13, Vince Renzo Liban, National Convener of Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY) posted on Twitter his sentiment about HIV discrimination.
One of the alleged victims reported that a woman in the LRT (Light Rail Transit) platform insisted the group should not be able to board the wagon intended for PWD and Senior Citizens only. So in an effort to explain the situation to her, one of them told her that they are PLHIV.
In response, the woman vehemently shamed these passengers–announcing how each of them was HIV positive–according to Liban’s post. This caused many commuters to avoid them, while other passengers recorded the incident. The incident involved six victims aged 19 to 23 and a one-year-old baby girl.
Nag-iinit ulo ko. Nagsumbong isa sa mga bagets na PLHIV just now, may isang babae raw na sinigaw sa LRT na “HIV+ pala kayo eh bat kayo nandito?”
The worst part was, nagsilayuan ang mga tao at vinideo pa ang incident. I’M WARNING YOU DO NOT RELEASE THAT VID, KAKASUHAN NAMIN KAYO! pic.twitter.com/qGmWezBHp6
— Vince 🌈🍥 (@vinceliban) July 13, 2019
Together with other non-government organizations, Liban filed a police report to make sure that the offender will learn her lesson.
In an interview with InqPOP!, Liban explains, “We need to stop the stigma and discrimination in all its forms because these aggravate the situation of PLHIVs. The passage of the new Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act (RA 11166) shall protect the rights of PLHIVs including the right to confidentiality and the right to non-discrimination.”
Sinama na namin yung kamay ng 👮🏻 coz tbf learn nila HIV Law.
Kids decided to file a case. Ravan! ✊🏻 pic.twitter.com/2B9xJMjZ2r
— Vince 🌈🍥 (@vinceliban) July 13, 2019
He also added that these victims are humans too– “they have the same rights and deserve the same dignity and respect just like everybody else.”
What can you say about this incident? Tell us in the comments below.
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