This day marks, sort of, my second birthday. My first birthday is my actual birthday. I consider this, it’s a personal thing, to be my second birthday because this is the day that I was reborn — I went public with my HIV status and somehow got reborn into this new person. I became an HIV awareness and prevention advocate; I found a new sense of self, wisdom, and sense of purpose. Everything changed. It was, like, growing out of old skin.
The numbers in the Philippines, unfortunately, is staggering. It has risen sporadically over the years and last October 2013, the Department of Health reported 491 cases of new HIV infections in the country. We are almost 15,000 people living with HIV in the country and the number doesn’t seem to be stopping. We are trying to find methods with which to get people to abstain or to use protection — to take better care of themselves and to stop taking unnecessary risks.
Because that is what it is. It is an unnecessary risk. HIV is preventable. It does not just happen to someone. You have to get infected. It is quite simple to not get infected. Abstain from having sex, and if that’s not possible, use protection. And have yourself tested often because the sooner you know, the better, the easier it will be to manage the virus.
It’s a strange world when being safe and taking care of yourself is something we have to tell people and not something that is coming naturally to others. You’d think that people would want to be safe, would want to stay healthy. Especially when the threat of infection is so real. Why should it be so hard to get people to take less risks? Why is it so hard to get people to care about themselves and of each other? What is happening to the world?
The Red Whistle campaign is trying to inspire people to practice safe sex and they asked multi-awarded filmmaker Brillante Mendoza to direct a short film with that theme. Here is the video that he directed for The Red Whistle called Eternal.
Safe sex and being healthy and safe shouldn’t have to be ingrained into people. We shouldn’t have to inspire people to be safe. Isn’t that something that we should all just naturally try and do?
It’s World AIDS Day. Thousands and thousands of people have died due to complications caused by AIDS. This is the 21st century. We should be smarter now. We should be more careful now. This should stop. Let’s do our part.