It’s Time to ACT and Curb HIV/AIDS Spread

Who would ever have thought that I would get involved in an HIV/AIDS advocacy?

I supported advocacies, yes. But I never thought of supporting something that I felt then I had no connection to. In my mind, I was saying that those who should be concerned are those who are sexually active with multiple partners, the gay community and others. Nope, not me. I will just focus on advocacies up my alley — maybe breast or cervical cancer or children illnesses. You know, women and motherly concerns.

But last year, when Project Headshot Clinic invited bloggers, along with some celebrities, to spread the word about HIV/AIDS awareness and the importance of action, I took a second look at the disease.

Here are some highlights that everyone should know about HIV/AIDS –

* HIV is not = AIDS. AIDS is the full-blown manifestation of HIV but if well-managed, HIV-positive people may not necessarily end up with AIDS.

* HIV attacks the immune system, our defense against all kinds of sickness

* You cannot die from HIV but because it weakens your immune system, you are susceptible to more serious infections and diseases

* Anyone can get HIV. It can hit anyone of any age, gender, sexual preference, race, religion, family background, profession, social status, life accomplishments, height or weight. ANYONE!

* HIV is transmitted in 4 ways: 1) unprotected sex, 2) sharing of infected needles, 3) as a fetus or infant during birth or through breastfeeding, and 4) by blood transfusion.

That is what caught my eye – item #4 (blood transfusion). How many of us have contracted dengue, for example, and needed blood transfusions? Even children get blood transfusions when platelet count is down.

Just today, I found this online news article from the Inquirer where some 124 blood units were found tainted with HIV. How safe is blood screening of donors in the Philippines – really? Scary thought…

That’s not all. Here are some alarming numbers. And mind you, this is just for the Philippines.

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MOVE – a World AIDS Day Project by Headshot Clinic

Are we aware of how HIV/AIDS is rapidly spreading in the Philippines and in the world?

I got hold of some materials with some statistics from the National Epidemiology Center and was shocked to find out that:

– At the present rate, there will be 700 new cases of HIV/AIDS before 2009 ends

– In 2000, there was only 1 new case every 3 days; in 2009, there are TWO new cases EVERY DAY!

– 89% of HIV transmission is through SEX

– Since 2007, 72% of new cases were males who were infected by having sex with OTHER MALES

Coinciding with the annual celebration of World AIDS Day last December 9, a series of portraits done by the renowned Filipino conceptual photographer, Niccolo Cosme, is on exhibit at Greenbelt 5 (fountain area). The exhibit runs till December 14.

My oldest daughter and I were lucky to have been part of a pool of bloggers who participated in this year’s Project Headshot Clinic. On their website, this is what Headshot Clinic has to say about their unique way of spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS:

The Headshot Clinic is the flagship in employing unparalleled advocacy using digital photography as its main medium of representation and publicizes it through the presently prevailing social networks. The collaborating powers of both will further enhance awareness as last year’s UNAIDS supported Project Headshot Clinic: AWARE to spread the issues and facts of HIV/AIDS. “AWARE” took the internet by storm. It was able to spread consciousness and made more people aware of HIV/AIDS.

This year, UNAIDS and Project Headshot Clinic are working together to call for ACTION in fighting the spreading of HIV/AIDS. It is a sad realization that as much as we are aware of the dangers, still – more and more people are diagnosed with the decease.

And so we have to MOVE.

Headshot Clinic Project: UNAIDS MOVE aims to facilitate curiosity in people and drive them to make a change. We will inform the public and will ultimately thrust a call for action to fight HIV/AIDS. It will feature advocates who are the movers and shakers in the Philippines, as well as regular people like students, taxi drivers, or personalities who are or have been affected by HIV. This time, as we have succeeded in the dissemination of awareness from last year, we are acting on it.

And we will fight it together, everyone has a voice and it should be heard.

To put the exhibit together, Headshot Clinic and Niccolo tapped celebrities, bloggers and ordinary people for headshots. Personally, I felt it was my chance to help promote an advocacy as a blogger, to do something worthwhile and push for awareness and change.

Some people I recognized among the pics taken by Headshot Clinic were Boyet Sison (ANC host of Hardball), RJ and Vanessa Ledesma, Carlos Celdran, Joey Reyes, Cong. Risa Hontiveros, Kristine Hermosa, Gelli de Belen, Dr. Eric Tayag of DOH, Tim Yap and Niccolo himself.

Here is my own headshot pic.

It’s time to MOVE and make more people aware of the creeping threat of HIV/AIDS in our country!

There will be more activities to drum up HIV/AIDS awareness in the Philippines scheduled for 2010. Watch for them!

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