Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. expressed his apology on his social media account after he was called out on his offensive remark towards people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Locsin made the remark by stating on a social media post that records of patients with COVID-19 should be publicized as compared to records of patients with HIV for being embarrassing.
“Unlike HIV, there is nothing embarrassing about having your medical records made public for coronavirus. There’s a difference and it’s a big one: no privacy for COVID cases,” he said on his Twitter account.
He apologized after his insensitive remark garnered attention on social media where he was called out by many netizens.
“My apologies to the community for any offense I may have caused in stating my support for loosening data privacy for contact tracing efforts. Rest assured that I am one with you all in destigmatizing HIV in society,” Locsin said.
The Red Whistle, a health advocate for people with HIV and AIDS, also called for Locsin’s apology specifically for people he has offended.
“We enjoin the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to reflect on his words and publicly apologize to the tens of thousands of Filipinos living with HIV at home and abroad that he may have offended,” they said.
The group explained that offensive remarks only normalize the stigma experienced by people with HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
“Having HIV should not be an embarrassment. But unfortunately, people living with HIV are subjected to undue stigma brought about by the general public’s lack of awareness and education on HIV prevention and treatment,” said The Red Whistle.
The group also said that being in position, government officials should understand more and to improve awareness for other people.