Today is World AIDS Day. A few weeks ago, I took part in Project Headshot Clinic ACT, an advocacy project running on its third year for AIDS/HIV awareness.
The project for World AIDS Day awareness is spearheaded by celebrity photographer Niccolo Cosme and the shoot was held at his Lighthouse Studio on Malate.
The closest encounter with HIV/AIDS I have ever had is when a friend told me her young gay nephew was dying of AIDS. At first, they thought it was just tuberculosis, and so he took the 6-month treatment course. But after completing it, the TB recurred. The doctors suspected HIV infection, and a test confirmed it. A few months later, he was gone. My friend said her nephew was talented in music and would have gone far in the industry had he lived longer.
The Headshot Clinic (HSC) aims to create online awareness about advocacies by creating profile picture campaigns. In its first year of partnering with UNAIDS for World AIDS Day, the theme for HIV/AIDS awareness was “AWARE”. On the second year, it was “MOVE”. This year, the theme is “ACT” – it’s the readiness to act and do something about HIV/AIDS. At the heart of the campaign is voluntary HIV testing, which was offered to HSC participants after the photoshoot.
It was an honor to be part of such an amazing project which aims to raise the level of awareness of Filipinos about HIV/AIDS.
(Click here to view the HSC-ACT gallery)
At the photoshoot, volunteers from UNAIDS and AIDS Society of the Philippines (ASP) were onsite to offer insights about HIV/AIDS and straighten misconceptions. Here are some of the things that I learned from Ryan of ASP:
- Since 1984, there have been 5,472 reported cases of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection.
- In 2010, the rate of infection climbed to 4-5 new cases per day. That translates to one new case every six hours.
- HIV is transmitted through the four bodily secretions: blood; semen; vaginal secretions; breastmilk. Nope, saliva does not transmit HIV. So no, kissing does not transmit the virus. And yes, we can beso-beso and hug persons with HIV/AIDS without contracting the virus (Jeeez!).
- Actually, persons with HIV/AIDS should be more wary about what they can get from you, because even the most common germ can compromise their health.
- A note on breastfeeding: A person with HIV who gives birth to an infant must breastfeed her baby because the benefits of doing so far outweigh the risks.
There are five ways to prevent the spread of HIV:
A – Abstain from sex.
B – Be faithful to your partner.
C – Correct use of condom
D – Do not use drugs and alcohol (or at least limit alcohol intake up to the point where you are still within your well elements, as in you don’t act promiscuously out of drunkenness).
E – Educate yourself.
What may surprise you, my dear mommy readers, is that HIV/AIDS does not just “happen” to gay people, druggies or the sexually promiscuous. It can also affect us – women. A lot of husbands go abroad as OFWs. How many of them practice ABC above: abstain, stay faithful, or at least use condoms? The husbands come home, they miss the wifey, and refuse to use the condom. There’s that warped mentality when it comes to couples and condoms.
This is just one scenario. Read the article I linked to above as it is very insightful. (Filipino Women and HIV)
Today is World AIDS Day. The best we can all do in our own capacity is to educate ourselves. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t stigmatize. Know the facts of HIV/AIDS. Support the Reproductive Health Bill because it’s about time to have one.
If you would like to know about HIV testing and counselling, AIDS prevention and treatment options, get in touch with AIDS Society of the Philippines (ASP). For listing of treatment hubs and Social Hygiene Clinics that offer free HIV testing please refer to this link: http://takethetestproject.wordpress.com/all-about-hiv/hiv-hubs/
HIV testing is completely voluntary and strictly confidential.