It’s World AIDS Day.
As of October 2012, the Philippines have recorded 11,125 cases of HIV. They say it isn’t a lot, not as much as other countries, but since the number is growing steadily, over 200 new cases every month in the year 2012 alone, the situation is dire. The situation is frightening.
What are we doing to stop this? The government, NGOs, social civic groups, advocates are doing their best to engage the public and let them know that the threat is real and it is here and we are all vulnerable to the virus. Our only weapon is information. Our only defense is to take care of ourselves.
I’ve been diagnosed with HIV in 2008. That day, I died. On December 1, 2008, I went public with my HIV status, with the help of the amazing Niccolo Cosme, and became an advocate for HIV awareness and prevention. Figuratively, that was my second birthday — my resurrection, if you will — and I was alive again.
Four years down that road, I’ve tried to lead by example. I preached about taking the test, being safe, being smart, caring for one another, caring for yourself. And while more people have been taking the test, through consequence of my actions or not, more people are getting infected everyday.
Four years down the road, I’ve come to the conclusion that we can spread the word and tell you to be safe but if you don’t do it, you won’t be spared. You will always be vulnerable. We can’t protect you. We can tell you how to be safe but we can’t protect you from being infected. It’s all on you.
I throw the challenge, now, to you.
The information is out there. If you can read this, then you have access to the Internet and all you have to do is Google “HIV facts.” Hell, even Wikipedia has enough information that you need to take in. And then, be like every educated person and apply what you know. APPLY WHAT YOU KNOW. Knowing is not enough. You’ve got to make changes.
And then spread the information. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell the people at work. Tell people about it. Start the conversation. Ignorance is the killer. HIV just seals the deal.
We — the government, the NGOs, the civic groups, the advocates — we can’t tell everybody individually. We don’t know the best way to talk to your friends and your family. We don’t know what tone to take and what language to speak that they will understand. We can only talk in broad strokes and the problem with that is that not all will hear or will want to hear. We don’t know how to talk to everybody individually.
But you do. No one can talk to your friends and your family the way you can.
When I was diagnosed with HIV and I told my friends and family, they all started to become more aware. I would like to think that those at risk took the test and began to take proper precautions.
We can’t save the world. We can’t save you. As much as we want to, we can’t. But you can save yourself. You can save yourself and the ones around you. And if everyone — everyone in the world — just saved themselves and the ones they love, then we stand a chance.
We stand a chance.
I believe in an AIDS free generation. I believe in a world where we care for ourselves and for each other.
Be the cure. You are the cure.
This can end. This can end now.
Be the cure.