To accept our status is important for us to face our everyday challenges. This will make us face life’s adversaries head on. But did you know that it took me a while to have this kind of thinking? Yes, the person, whose story you are reading now, is totally different many years back. Needless to say, I faced my own demons and I am proud that I’ve been able to conquer it no matter how hard the process was. And yes, naproseso na ako as I may call it because it took my peer educator and volunteer lots and lots of patience to help and guide me attain the positive mindset that I have now.
When I was young I remembered watching the news and the hottest topic that time was Sarah Jane Salazar. Who would not know her? Sarah Jane was perhaps the first celebrated and media hyped HIV case in the Philippines because she bravely went out to public. It was like she first started to give HIV a face that the disease was real. It was during that time when I also remembered telling myself that it would it be impossible that I’ll have a relative that would have HIV. I was confident that none of what I was seeing on TV will happen to my family or people that I know.
Time is gold for people who are busy as bees, but are they aware of the increasing number of people who are infected of HIV? As of October 2013, the Department of Health HIV and AIDS Registry recorded a number of 491 new HIV cases. Yes, it was the highest recorded new HIV incidence since 2011.
Why would you let yourself continue an unknown journey if its easier to end it right away? Perhaps this question was popular amongst other people living with HIV (PLHIVs) especially on the first few weeks, months or years after they were diagnosed. And perhaps this was a question often asked when one was trying to find out the reasons why they got the virus and the fear of not knowing what lies ahead after contracting it. But in the end, all the uncertainties and fears can be eased by a simple yakap or hug.
My name is Genesis and I’m 26 years old when I got diagnosed HIV positive. Yes, HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. And this is my personal testimony about how beautiful life is, specially if you are surrounded with great and positive people.
The MAC AIDS FUND is a venture also known as GLAM FOR LIFE which intended to deal with the nutritional and medical needs of people living with HIV and AIDS or PLHIVs. For many years, I am part of the advocacy. I’ve acquainted with a lot of people with different stories and I was able to help them to cope up with the problems brought about by this malady. And being part of this project I could be able to touch the lives of others.
The price we pay for everything we acquire doesn’t always come with a monetary value. It doesn’t even need to take shape in a tangible form. As Andy Mcintyre stated: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
Being unaware on how to prevent HIV from entering the body will expose us to the risk of acquiring the virus, but it’ll be worse if we know that we have it and do nothing. I believe that knowing nothing is the lesser evil as compared to keeping a blind eye even though you know the real state of your health. Perhaps it was ignorance or perhaps is was plain laziness. Either way, it will do you harm.
Being a Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc.( PAFPI) volunteer and peer educator, I got to visit different treatment hubs, meet a lot of people working in the HIV and AIDS advocacy and talk to people living with HIV. And talking to my peers and listen to their stories were only some of the perks for being a peer educator. But you may ask why? Simply because not all were given a chance to inspire others and to make them realize that there’s life after HIV. But before I bore you, read on to know my story on how I met my newly diagnosed client.
Home is sweet but it was made sweeter when there’s love to meet, welcome and greet us. This was truly important for me since most of the statements I hear from a person living with HIV (PLHIV) tell that they’ve been disowned or that they experienced stigma and discrimination not only by other people but including some members of their family. If this happens, many HIV positive individuals thought of ending their lives after facing the dilemma, anger, hurt and confusion when their family turned their backs on them.
One of my most memorable day as an active volunteer was to join hospital visits at San Lazaro as part of the program of the Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc.( PAFPI). Every Monday, we are able to give food to patients who are confined at the hospital. And that day, we’ve reached out to 22 patients and what I saw really broke my heart because many, if not most, of the patients were in dire need of support, both morally and financially.