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Everyone Should Be Educated About HIV and Here are 5 Reasons Why

Everyone Should Be Educated About HIV and Here are 5 Reasons Why

We always look forward to the last month of the year because of the holiday season, the parties and reunions, and the well-deserved year-end break. But every first of December, there's another thing that we should be talking about: the celebration of World AIDS Day.

We know that HIV/AIDS, in general, may be deemed an irrelevant concern, a non-issue, or as others would say, "malayo sa bituka." 

But in a modern society where gender equality is being embraced and information is readily available, it is disconcerting to find that the HIV situation in the country is in a grave state. 

Here are five reasons that will hopefully open your mind about the importance of this subject.

1. The numbers are disturbing.

At present, the Philippines has the highest rate of increase in HIV cases in the Asia-Pacific. In fact, the number of new infections this year alone is double the total number of new infections from four years back.

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We're also one of the only nine remaining countries in the world that continues to show an upward trajectory in terms of HIV cases, according to a 2012 UNAIDS report. Yikes! This is definitely NOT something we can be proud of.

2. We all know someone from the LGBTQIA+ community.

A friend, a workmate, perhaps even a family member — We all have that someone in our lives who identifies as queer. We mean, they're easily our fashion advisers, showbiz insiders, and true-blue besties!

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Well, we hate to admit this, but this sector is the most at risk of being infected with HIV. If not properly educated, they may be infected with a virus that stays in a person's system… for life.

3. Heterosexual women are also vulnerable.

The virus is not discriminating, even if people sometimes are. While statistics show that majority of HIV cases in the country are still due to men having sex with men, there are a number of HIV-positive women, some of whom unknowingly infected their own babies.

  UNAIDS 2018

UNAIDS 2018

4. There's a reason it's called a "silent epidemic."

There are no signs and symptoms that will tell us if a person is infected with HIV contrary to what others would want you to believe. And this only makes it harder for someone who doesn't know that he or she is infected to get the necessary treatment as soon as possible.

Without those signs and symptoms, who would go to a doctor, right?

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A person might think that everything is going smoothly in life… until the HIV has become full-blown AIDS, and it's just too late.

5. HIV is not a death sentence.

Some people still believe that the mere act of holding hands with a person living with HIV (PLHIV) transmits the virus. Or that a PLHIV won't have much time left in this world. Or that HIV-positive people are skinny and fragile and weak and no longer functional in society.

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But the truth is, PLHIVs can live normal lives like the rest of us. There is no reason to discriminate them because while having HIV is a lifelong condition, it can be arrested to the point when the virus can no longer be detected and transmitted. 

Antiretroviral drugs are free and available in government health centers. There are a number of advocacy groups, too, that offer support. 

Education is key in stopping the stigma — whether from the external environment or from the self. And it must all begin with knowing your HIV status. 

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