Pia Wurtzbach has some serious thoughts to share on stigmatizing HIV.
The 2015 Miss Universe titleholder, also the UN Goodwill Ambassador on HIV/AIDS, wrote a stirring Instagram post, a stark contrast from her usual glamorous photos on the social media app. Accompanied by an all-black photo, Pia spoke out against the recent blunder by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and some media platforms, after they disclosed the HIV status of one of the suspects in a recent drug bust operation.
According to RA 8504, it is illegal to publicly disclose a person’s HIV status.
Universe, listen to this. A few days ago a drug bust happened in a high scale hotel in Manila Philippines involving 11 supposedly gay men. Two of them were suspected of selling/distributing drugs. During the operation, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) found out that one of of them was HIV positive. PDEA and local news outlets decided to expose the identities of these men to the media. Their mugshots, names, and the HIV status of one of them were released. Was this really necessary? I understand that what the men were supposedly doing was illegal and they should face legal consequences. But there was absolutely no need to expose and publicly shame them. It’s illegal to publicly announce one’s HIV status (RA8504). What has been done has not only traumatized the men that were involved; it has also worsened the HIV situation in the Philippines. We’re working so hard in educating the people properly on HIV/AIDS, on taking away the stigma. Because of what PDEA and the news outlet have done, some people are now associating drugs and immorality with being gay. It’s ridiculous. The whole point of this drug raid was to arrest the men for their supposed crime, which was selling/distributing and using illegal narcotics. Being gay is not a crime! Living with HIV is not a punishment! Come on, Philippines. We are already taking small steps forward to improve acceptance, tolerance and understanding. We cannot take big steps back. To PDEA and the news outlets, take steps to mend the situation. Sa aking mga kababayan, wag po tayo maging judgmental. Hindi immoral ang maging bakla, hindi dapat ituring na kaparusahan ang HIV. At lalong hindi ito biro na dapat pag-pyestahan at pagtawanan. To my beloved LGBT community, stay strong. We’ll win this.
Despite the apparent stigma of HIV in the Philippines, the country has the highest HIV infection growth rate in the Asia-Pacific, at 140 percent.
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