The Rising Cases of HIV in the Phils: What Now?

05.17.2019

So the March 2019-data came out today and yet again,  we have mixed reactions around the rising number of new cases in the country.

First off, we look at the numbers and the most current reports say that we have more than 65,000 cases since 1984.  If we’re familiar with the report, we would already know that the more common mode of transmission in the country is through unprotected penetrative sex yada yada yada… But what does the 65,000 really mean?

We have an AEM, I think it stands for the AIDS Epidemiology Model, that projects the number of cases in the country– with other disaggregations (or breakdowns).   A couple of weeks ago, I was told by a friend that the AEM has been updated and that the projected number of PLHIV in the country is at 90,000 (I had it fixed at 70,000+ for some time).  We evidently are far from the projection.

What about the projections?

  1. If these projections are accurate,  it means that this is our (entry-level) basis for the first 90 of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target.  90% of people living with HIV know their status? 65,000/90,000 multiplied by 100 would give you the percentage (use your calculator).
  2. Given these projections, there should be a regional or city-level disaggregation so further planning may be done down to the grassroots.  Hence, cities and municipalities are not blind when they plan out their programs and budget. Note that geographically contiguous (or adjacent) locations may need to consider the fact that people can easily move from one place to another– as such, inter-city and a more synchronized program across the different locations may be ideal (?).
  3. The projections are also needed for the national and local budgets to be carefully planned.  Procurement and buffers of anti-retroviral drugs (ArV) and other prophylactic drugs may have to consider these projections, for one.
  4. The projections will grow year on year as they (whoever are doing the projections) update the AEM data.  I would think that if we were to laymanize this,  if you have 10 PLHIV undiagnosed out there having unprotected sex, next year how much of these 10 would have passed the HIV on to  (how much more) others.

What’s been said before

I already said in previous blogs around the registry that the new cases mean that we are reaching more and more people.  I said the same thing in a recent radio interview.   I also said before that we’re seeing more and more people accessing the HIV services in the different locations.   I also said before that we appreciate the efforts of our different partners acting on the program.

What needs to be done

A LOT still.

We need to understand as community members the different data sets available in our environment.

Heck, did you know that the different cities have population estimates for MSM, Transgender women, Female / Male sex workers, etc.?  This is a good (maybe not perfect) basis when you look at your current location you’re working on.

This is where being an “advocate” comes in.  As volunteers, we may not have the same level of appreciation, understanding and ACCESS to data available for our response planning.   As an advocate, we want to act on the available data and help institutionalize programs in place– as oppose to a volunteer who would push and act more on the programs per se at the grassroots level.

NOTE:  I am not downgrading the importance of volunteers in the community- THEY WILL always remain the backbones of the whatever programs are put in place across different locations and agencies.

We also call on our AEM Data-holders to roll out the information down to the different civil society organizations we programs are built around the available (evidence-based) data.

So when we look at the HIV/AIDS Registry, don’t look and talk.

LOOK AND ACT.

LOOK, PLAN AND ACT.

LOOK, PLAN, PLACE AND ACT.

Whichever works best for you.

Again, one life reached is one life saved.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: This is not a “full blown” take on the AEM’s role in our programs.

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A Weekend At Galera

05.06.2019

The last time I went there was 2015 I think, with some of the REDx kids.  Last weekend, I was finally able to go visit Puerto Galera again with @iam_pansexual @james000014 @AriesBoiii @SuperTrix3 @kuya_daddy  and my partner, Kim.   It was a nice experience. Relaxed and I wasn’t in any way harassed to doing activities I didn’t want to do.  We stayed at Agbing’s where we paid PhP2500/4pax room. Oh, one-way fare would cost you around 600 I believe (from the Bus Station in QC to the island)

Food.

The food places were the same.  You would have grilled meat-places (Php130 on the average) w/ fresh fruit shakes (around PhP90-120).  If you want more affordable food, you may go further back of White Beach Hotel where residents would have set up small “eatery” with meat viands at PhP60 and veggies at PhP40.  Seafood was notably pricey like Tilapia and squid normally cost PhP230/piece.   Try not to get conned with the “group meals” of some places like “Queen of Isle” where a meal for 2 would cost PhP400 (half an order of liempo, Pork sinigang, “unli-rice” and 2 glasses of Iced Tea.

Activities.

I “saw” quite a number of activities around the beach like parasailing and banana boat rides. Henna and permanent tattoo-booths are all over the place.  You have roving masseuses who offer massage and braids.  Two volleyball nets   are galera collage

 available on a first-come-first-“own” basis.   Sunset is never bad at any beach in the country. 

Booze

At night, tables and chairs are set up to extend the restaurant parameters towards the beach to accommodate more customers.   The most popular drink in Galera would be the “Mindoro Sling” which is a concoction of rum, 7-up (or Sprite), lemon juice, grenadine and (sometimes) mango nectar.  The cheapest Sling tower we saw was at PhP330.   Different bars have different entertainment shows set up, too near one another that more often

poi gallera

than not, the sounds/music are overlapping.  You have crossdressers and transgenders doing drag shows, some bars would have DJs playing loud(er) music to drown out the bar-next-door.  Some bars have acoustics.  A few bars have fire dancers also.

 

So why go to Galera? It’s one of the relatively nearest, more popular go-to places we have this side of the country.     It’s said to be a haven for MSMs but this past weekend, I would think it’s more than an MSM get-away.   It’s a cheaper-simulation of Boracay (sorry if i used the word simulation) so you have many bar-options and food places to go to, less the air travel.

And why NOT Galera? If you are so in love with Boracay, then you might not like Galera.   The boat ride is at least an hour and they tend to go overboard with the passengers (we actually were standing the entire boat ride from Galera to Batangas Port).

Oh, yeah. I can’t possibly end this without saying a word or two about the famous bat cave.  This used to be that end of the island where MSMs cruise at night. I wasn’t able to (REALLY) go there this time but my friends were able to do oculars.  There weren’t as many men like in the “olden days” but yeah, cruising exists.  They said the farthest end has barbed wires so you have to be careful at night in the dark if you go walking towards that side.

Lastly, DO NOT BRING A CAR hoping there’s parking inside the Batangas port area. We ended up walking for 30 minutes under the heat of the sun, all soaked in sweat after an hour’s SRO boat ride just to get to the car OUTSIDE of the port.

See you again, Galera.

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The Cling

04.15.2018

We cling, to memories so dear. To pain so deep. We cling to feel. The friendships so joyful, the past that cut us into a thousand pieces, the hope that may never be.

We cling, so we can learn from each moment. No matter how vague, no matter how defined.

We cling, so we prove to ourselves we are able, or able to. Even if it disables us.

We cling, and we do it again a million and one times, because clinging makes us human,  for some, humane.  Even if others look down at us, judge us, think low of us, we still cling.

We cling to our faith, no matter how strong or fragile. We cling to gain the gaze of people we want near.

We cling to our assumptions, and when proven otherwise, we cling to new sets of theories.

This is us.

We aspire, we desire.

We wish, we expect.

That’s why we cling.

 

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Coming Home

04.03.2019

You lost your way, you went somewhere you never imagined you could ever go.  Somewhere you thought was paradise. Somewhere you felt free. Yourself.

You lost your way, you went to a place where acceptance was given, not begged for. You though you were safe, so you stayed there. Somewhere.

One day, you woke up. Lost. Lonely.

You lost your way,  and people are telling you to come back home.

What is home?

Where is home?

Is it with the people who you grew up with?

Or the people you grew into and with over the years?

Who can tell you this is home, or that is home?

When you’re lost, you come back home.

But home is anywhere…

where love is.

where acceptance is.

where sadness and happiness are both overflowing.

where loneliness is inevitable and yet, joy is unquestionable.

where pain and mistakes are building blocks of your tomorrow.

Home is where your heart is.

You may get lost in your own home but it doesn’t mean you are lost.

Being lost is a matter of perception.

Being lost is an idea.

as being home is.

home

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Don’t Settle

Dear You,

You have been hurt before, deceived even, or at least you felt that way. You felt you owed him so you stuck around, despite the pain. But it doesn’t mean you don’t have the choice– the will– to choose your path because you are HIV positive.  You will be loved by someone who deserves your love. You will be cared for by someone who cares so much that hurting you will never be his intent.

Don’t settle because you’re indebted. Or because you’re confused.  Life is short and it becomes shorter with every second spent with someone who doesn’t appreciate you.  When a person brings us tears, we sometimes bear the pain and suffer in the dark– because we love him.

Do you? Really love him?

If you do, we will be there for you should pain come hitting you back. Knowing that the love you chose is tantamount to some pain, your blood family will be there for you.

If you don’t, we will be there for you should you decide to walk away. We will hold your hand as you are not alone, you will never have to be alone.

Life is full of choices. Some we get to choose so luxuriously from, but some we have so much limitations we’re bound by debts and history.

Either way, know that we are here.

Don’t play around. Don’t go with the flow.

Be in control.

Be wise. Let your pain be your teacher.

We’re here for you.

Love,

Dad

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Your 2019 REDx Organizer

03.26.2018

Everyone had a hand in making sure that the noise online was sustained. Everyone also had to make direct messages to follow up with some attendee-wanna be who wouldn’t respond after registration.

But there had to be division of tasks to make sure the grounds were covered.

Our resident “modista”,  and was eventually in-charge of the SMS blast. Along with Grey, he also helped with the procurement of the materials needed  for the Mr & Ms REDx / event.

Our social media and technical specialist, He took care of the the analytics for the different hash tags.  Also, he served as on the resident first aid expert on the island

Tito took care of the bus and the island coordination.  He also owned the accounts where funds were transferred, hence, he managed the funds. He also set up the mobile bar and took care of the video for the cadlelight

@Puhaorangi 

Our onsite boytoy. Just kiddin’.  He assisted with the onsite coordination, he was also my official pillow during the bus ride. =) .

@GreyHuMin

Our all-around girl,  Grey would be the go to person if this or that (thing or person) will have to be done, followed-up on and spoken to.

@POSSIECAT83 as always is and will always be the best person to handle the games.

YOUR NON- FIRST TIMERS

OF COURSE, it would only be proper to mention the non-first timers in this organizer’s article, =)

  • @Kaskade08 (2014-2018 Ms REDx)
  • @positivelife888
  • @PenpenSue
  • @CarloAl55724166
  • @fighivter
  • @13Yelchin
  • @HopPeaMelon
  • @OCDriver0608 (Onsite assist)
  • @ryancortez (Onsite assist)
  • @iamnemo2012 (Onsite assist)

 

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REDxSummer2019 – more than an outing

03.25.2019

Months of preparation and stress has finally ended, and it was all f*cking worth it.  I was worried for a while there, worried that the kids might not enjoy.  I was worried that the community might not appreciate the activities as the previous years did. Worried that there are gonna be “dividers” who might rock the boat.

I was worried for nothing.

I saw them have fun, hearty laughters and heartfelt commitment to compete (and have fun) for and with their teams.

It was all I wanted.  It wasn’t even a question of whether I had fun ‘coz God knows I am not a fan of the sun, or of the salt water.  But seeing them was enough.

More than enough.

And this here is a collage of group pictures taken from the 5 REDx activities (courtesy of https://twitter.com/redxofficialph ).

redxgrouppic.jpg

It’s sad that nearly 75-80% of the previous REDx guys have moved on with their lives, sad in a way that I would have wanted to have seen them with the newbies.  But in a way, it’s good knowing that they have gone back to their lives.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and this batch may as well be doing that in a few weeks or months.

I do appreciate the now of things.  The new faces that felt the need to be with new friends from the community. The new faces that seemed to want to belong.

The new faces that are in fact getting younger and younger as the years go by.

And yes, for the record, I had fun.  In fact, it renewed my faith in the positive community that once dwindled because it felt divided. The weekend made me feel that the community may not always have the same  views on certain issues, but it will always be ONE COMMUNITY.

ONE blood.

MANY tales.

ONE heart.

MANY woes.

ONE HOME.

#REDx will serve as a house to these kids. A home. Though not for everyone, as any other house would be, but the doors will remain open to those who would want to have a safe place to stay.

Or simply laugh.

Or even cry.

And love,

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#live2tellthetales

03.17.2019

With the #REDxSummer2019 fast approaching, we have asked the five teams to use certain hashtags as a way to create noise around the activity.  While this is a contest based on which groups would reach more on twitter,  there is an underlying fact that we cannot discount.

The noise can reach the community outside of the positive twitter community- this is a way to make people aware that the positive community is organizing itself.  While primarily a social event,  the activity may tell the world that we, the positive community, are living our lives like any other person would.

So the #livetotellthetales  has tweeted out motivational quotes and  has brought to the surface some stories from within the positive community, to mention a few tweets, please see below:

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 11.06.09 AM.png

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 11.08.16 AM.png

Of course we have not gone viral or anything.  But it is heartwarming to know that the #live2tellthetales has made an impression of more than 180,000 over the past few days and has reached 258,700+ twitter accounts.  These data were extracted late last night by @sutilako

Kudos to @bibo_kiddo for generating the most number of impressions (he does have quite a number of followers to begin with)

You see, this is more than just making noise.  This is more than just a friendly competition among the teams.  This is NOT to stress the community who’s joining us for the event come March 23 (and we apologize to those who have been stressed out).

I hope we see what’s beneath the surface.

I hope we reach what’s beyond the horizon.

This is for the community.

#live2tellthetales

 

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My Boracay 2019

03.15.2019

The first time I went to Boracay was in 2003 I think,  and after that, Boracay was an annual event for me and my partner from 2009 onwards until around 2013-2014.  This time, I’m here with my mom, brother and some office staff members.  We boarded the plane on time and the Caticlan to Boracay island transport was 700 per head (van, boat, trike).

The island is definitely a lot cleaner, well, it ought to be since they did close the place down for several months for maintenance.  Oh I have to say, the house we got from Airbnb is great.  I was actually worried the place was gonna be a mess but I was surprised with how big, clean and cool the place is.  My brother got it for 7000+ a night and it’s good for 12 people.  Three big rooms were all air-conditioned and there are three bathrooms. A maid’s quarter with its own bath is also available (where I actually stayed for privacy). The place has its own kitchen, wifi, garden and open living room.

bora bnb

Contact Abi Navarrete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Our first dinner was at the seafood place (D’ Talipapa) where one can ask the fresh seafood to be cooked on the spot.  I was underwhelmed with the food under seasonedand the singers were, well, singing (not impressed).  

seafood.jpg

There were three poi (fire) dancers also but they weren’t as grand as when they had the shows by the shore, I guess it’s because they had limited space to toss their whatever it is they’re swinging.

My travel wouldn’t be complete without having to test at least one person, and of course, I was able to.  I was able to chat with at least 21 guys about HIV testing during the first 24 hours,  more than half of them were locals and they said they didn’t know where they can get tested around here.   So that’s something to look at (well for the government to look at)

cbs bora.jpg

One thing I definitely noticed was that the place is infested (er, congested?) with Koreans.  I mean nothing wrong with that, I guess they do bring in the tourists and all.

Also, Grindr is much active. (No further comments about that)

I have been here for less than 24 hours and I have spent half  of the time sleeping.  It’s predictable of me (and my brother) to be sleeping on vacation.  It was until 2 hours ago that I finally got to see the beach (if it weren’t for my Starbucks cravings).

bora sbx.jpg

Breathtaking as the island may seem, I just wish I were here with my baby. Oh well. he’s busy with work and they have a Batangas team building tomorrow till Sunday.

Goal is to come here with the positive community next time. =)

 

 

 

 

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Psychosocial Disability & social media rants

03.06.2019

For the 297,980,923rd time,  yet again, I have heard and seen issues around the psychosocial disability classification of HIV.    Here’s a definition:

What is Psychosocial Disability?

Psychosocial disability is an internationally recognised term under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, used to describe the experience of people with impairments and participation restrictions related to mental health conditions.  These impairments can include a loss of ability to function, think clearly, experience full physical health, and manage the social and emotional aspects of their lives.

Psychosocial disability relates to the ‘social consequences of disability’ – the effects on someone’s ability to participate fully in life as result of mental ill-health. Those affected are prevented from engaging in opportunities such as education, training, cultural activities, and achieving their goals and aspirations.  Not everyone with a mental illness will have a level of impairment that will result in a psychosocial disability.

Now,  this same classification is used for the PWD or persons with disability identification card issued to people with psychosocial disability. again,  refer to the definition above.

HIV is not a physical disability.

Yes,  in most cases, it is not.

HIV should not be a disability.

Not a physical disability, but a psychosocial disability.

We should empower people living with HIV instead of giving them discounts through these PWD IDs.

True, we want the community empowered.  But let us not forget the Magna Carta for PWD, now, if we were to go under the premise that we should empower everyone, then by all means, remove the PWD and Senior Citizen’s ID altogether.

Let us not equate the ID as a way to remove the idea of empowerment from the community.

Let’s  make the community productive

I agree!  Again,  the ID is not in anyway related to the productivity of anyone. Jeez,  it’s as if the ID can give you free food and living expenses!

NOW I WON’T EVEN HONOR THE COMMENT AROUND LINKING THE PWD I.D. ISSUE TO THE RECENTLY SIGNED AIDS LAW, WHERE THE IDIOT WAS IMPLYING THAT THE LAW IS TAKING AWAY COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT.

My question.

What have you done to empower the community and make the community productive instead of ranting on social media?

Let me close this by quoting a line of Marcel on facebook:

See, it’s like this – let us uphold each other, not tear each other down. Them having privileges will never take away from yours. And that, after years and years of being relegated to the sidelights. In fact, adopting a libertarian view, that comes with the right to abuse it in the concept of property rights – jus possidendu, jus utendi, jus fruendi, jus abutendi.

 

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