“Once you have it, then you will suffer for the rest of your life.”
Nobody knows how the epidemic of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) would spread worldwide and how many lives it would change. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes the AIDS, a condition in which the body’s immune systems are severely undermined which could lead to full-blown AIDS and eventually death. Hence, these infections could attack the body when the immune system is down. For now, there was no cure for AIDS but there are medications that can delay the HIV infection from becoming AIDS.
The Department of Health data show that of the 6,016 cases monitored since 1984, about 833 were reported to have developed into full-blown AIDS and 315 were reported to have died of it. Up until 2007, heterosexual intercourse accounted for most of the country’s reported HIV/AIDS cases, followed in descending order by homosexual and bisexual relations, mother-to-child transmissions, contaminated blood products, and injecting drug use with men. Filipino overseas workers such as the seafarers and domestic helpers also account for HIV/AIDS cases in the country. And in the recent times, there was a dramatic increase in the number of young professionals in the urban cities affected by it.
It has been confirmed by AIDS awareness groups and gay rights advocates that young gay men are beginning to represent the new face of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines. There are various factors that put the country at risk to a broader epidemic such as the increasing population mobility within and outside the country’s islands; hesitant to publicly discussing issues of a sexual nature; rising levels of sex work, casual sex, unsafe sex, and injecting drug use. There is also poor health-seeking behaviors among at-risk groups; gender inequality; shortcomings of prevention advocates; weak integration of HIV/AIDS responses in local government activities; inadequate social and behavioral research; and the persistence of stigma and discrimination.
HIV/AIDS can definitely destroy a family, a community, and even a nation. People have witnessed how the epidemic impedes the national development of some countries and push the stigmatized groups closer to the margins of society. We are living in an international society, and HIV/AIDS is considered the first international epidemic which is easily crossing from one country to the other.
The level of awareness among Filipinos about this problem should be increased. Appropriate measures must be done to support HIV/AIDS carriers and their families by improving support systems for them. They need to be educated about taking HIV tests to promote voluntary testing. They have no other way to find out that they have the condition unless they get tested. And the best ways to prevent it is still the fidelity to one’s partner and avoidance from premarital and unprotected sex.
I say, educating the Filipinos about this alarming, fatal condition is the key to prevent it or at least lessen the escalating number of cases. The government and the health care professionals should strengthen the efforts and campaigns to give awareness that this fatal condition is really present in the national communities.
Moreover, we must acknowledge that this is a very serious matter for all of us that should not be taken for granted. Be responsible enough before starting or engaging into acts that may put you into peril. You cannot escape from AIDS – a debilitating, deadly disease.
Once you are contracted by AIDS then suffering for the rest of your life is an option. Thus, death is unavoidable.