When we talk about this dreaded illness, first thing that comes to our mind is DEATH. Like the big "C", when someone is inflicted with HIV or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, victims considered it a hopeless case and knowing the fact that there's still no cure, only maintenance medications that fight the virus.. makes it even more frightening... seemingly, there's no LIFE after AIDS.
HIV and AIDS are related terms but not the same thing:
HIV is the virus that attacks and weakens the immune system but can be controlled and managed. The virus is found in blood and sexual fluids that can be transmitted through unprotected sex encounters, sharing hypodermic needles and an infected mother to her unborn child.
AIDS is a condition developed when the body has been weakened by HIV. It's the final stage of infection. Today, this incurable illness is no longer considered a death sentence rather, a chronic manageable condition. The infected person becomes more vulnerable to common sickness. Modern treatment and healthy lifestyles can prolong the person's life.
Worldwide Statistics based on amfAR:
More than 34M people now live with HIV/AIDS.
3.3M of them are under the age of 15.
In 2011, an estimated 2.5M people were newly infected with HIV.
330,000 were under the age of 15.
Every day nearly 7,000 people contract HIV—nearly 300 every hour.
In 2011, 1.7M people died from AIDS.
230,000 of them were under the age of 15.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 60M people have contracted HIV and nearly 30M have died of HIV-related causes.
The BIG question is:
If you found out that you are HIV positive, would you disclose your condition to other people or come out and tell the world?
There's this story about WANGGO GALLAGA, 29-year old son of filmmaker Peque Gallaga, who announced in 2008 that he's infected with HIV. According to him and I quote:
“I was diagnosed back in August 2008 and for the past four years, I’ve been trying to tell my story so that people can learn from my mistake.”
Since he was diagnosed, he's been going around the country to share his own experiences living with HIV. It has been his advocacy to promote awareness regarding the condition, hoping to teach people especially the young generation, the lessons he learned from doing what he calls, "risky behavior".
According to the 2012 Global Report of the United Nations Programs on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Philippines was one of nine countries where new HIV/AIDS cases increased by 25 percent from 2001 to 2011.
Records at the Department of Health showed that as of October 2012, the number of HIV cases in the country was at 11,125 since the first case in the country was reported in 1984.- (source)
In the Philippines alone, more than 1,000 Filipinos are tested HIV positive for the first quarter of 2013. The new cases affect more males than females with age group, 20-29 years old which also include OFWs.
LOVE of family and friends is of utmost significance in coping with this challenge. It is indeed a depressing situation. The battle is unimaginable but if there's a strong supportive group.. people with this condition will definitely live an almost normal life.