There are numerous issues of importance that have taken a backseat because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One of them is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a cause for concern not only in the LGBTQ+ community, but the entire human race as well. While the Department of Health (DoH) recently announced that HIV cases have gone down by an astounding 68 percent in the second quarter of 2020, it also noted that it is no cause for celebration.
Whether the number of cases has truly gone down or is simply unreported due to quarantines across the country, the fact remains that there are still new cases daily. In fact, before the pandemic, DoH statistics revealed that the country averaged 35 cases on a daily basis.
While there are movements and events like LGBTQ+ Pride Month that promote HIV-awareness alongside gender equality, bringing awareness to this cause, even while under quarantine, should not stop. There are ways to raise the alarm and bring the issue of HIV out in the open.
Here are a few:
A good first step — especially for those who are still on the fence and have reservations on the matter — would be to acknowledge and accept that people are free to identify themselves as they wish and that there is no one way to express one’s self and one’s love — not to mention that HIV exists. With this first step, individuals will have an easier time trying to understand and empathize with each other and possibly help each other overcome challenges such as HIV, gender inequality and other similar issues.
One of the many benefits of the digital world we live in today is that seemingly unlimited information is readily available within our fingertips. This is key because part of creating an HIV-free world also entails learning more about it, the groups of people who usually contract and ways in which the virus can be eradicated.
With a clear understanding of HIV, creating a world without it would mean spreading the word, engaging in discourse and spreading your knowledge to uninformed people. In advocating, one can also learn more through like-minded people looking to express themselves as well.
Lastly, to further disseminate information and knowledge while building a sense of community, it would be good to take action and support calls and campaigns such as Durex’s “No One Way Love All Ways” Campaign that supports and promotes all ways of living and expressing.
“A big challenge in the fight against HIV has always been the lack of acknowledgement and proper education on the matter,” said Dr. Rica Cruz, licensed psychologist, sex therapist and educator. “While the current situation presents difficulties as physical events cannot be staged, the opportunity to use available technologies such as social media and online webinars can also be utilized to our advantage. These are excellent tools for spreading the word to a wider audience from the comforts of our home while still being safe in more ways than one.”