Young and living with HIV in the Philippines
"I was first diagnosed with HIV last August 2013 and have been undergoing treatment for almost nine months. I had sex once without using protection and that one instance completely changed my life. I was shocked when I found out – in complete denial, then suicidal. I could not imagine how my friends would react if they knew. But amidst all the fear and pain, the question that immediately came to my mind was: “My family? Do I need to tell them?”
In the end, the first person I told was my mother. I still remember her reaction: she was devastated. During my “confession”, many questions were asked – how, when and where had I acquired HIV? I said I’d got it by having sex with my boyfriend without protection, and then I gave her some basic information about HIV to help her understand.
Despite all the uncertainties, I have not lost hope. I am a man who has sex with men. I have the same sexual rights as everyone else to live free from coercion, discrimination, and violence related to my sexual orientation. I have the right to pursue a safe, satisfying, and pleasurable sex life, and to have the highest attainable standard of health. But it isn’t easy to claim these rights. I have friends who are in the same situation as me, but they are scared to come out about their condition because of the stigma and discrimination directed against people living with HIV..
Many people here think that HIV is an airborne virus. This makes them scared of interacting with people living with HIV. We need to change these misconceptions through comprehensive sexuality education."
Now that you read this story and know why access to information is important, try to spread this important message to your peers. Make a poster in which you write down all the reasons why access to information is important and how it can benefit your peers! Be creative in your design and hang the poster in a visible place!