Beyond the Rainbow: A Youth's Perspective on HIV-AIDS
- 2 Posts
- Age 22
The thought of it is like a specter in the night that haunts, an incubus in the healthcare world, a tattoo that everyone dreads with a social stigma that must be stopped. A global pandemic of greatest proportions, HIV-AIDS continues to be a nightmare, claiming millions of lives worldwide. A great number of these lives are from the LGBT community.
Since the 1980's, the LGBT community has been on the hot seat when it comes to the HIV-AIDS issue and until today things have not taken that much of a turn. In my country, the Philippines, which was recently dubbed as the country with the highest HIV Infection growth rate in the Asia-Pacific Region, with more youth infected than any other age group, this is alarming and a must be treated as a national emergency. The thought of this scares me and as a youth and a member of the LGBT community, I can't help but wonder how it came to these numbers and how am I can help curbing the infection rate.
In my own thinking, I came to a point that maybe the answer to these queries must be proper education and awareness. Honestly, I only had a proper understanding of HIV-AIDS when I was in college - a bit later than many but I had greater understanding than I had back in high school when it was not explained thoroughly. With that greater understanding, I got to know more about the disease, the transmission, the causes, the horrible effects and more importantly, the people living with HIV-AIDS and their lives.
Conventional teaching methods in the Philippines when used as educational awareness for HIV-AIDS may not be enough. As early as high school, the youth should be educated with the true horrors of the virus, make them more curious about it and make them aware of the long term effects it brings to the life of an infected individual.
Individual awareness can also be of help. I had my first HIV test when I was 21 years old - yes, late and maybe for some unacceptable, given that I had past sexual relationships. But the issue here is FEAR - fear of being labelled, fear of being gossiped about, fear of being seen going to an HIV facility, fear of being seen at the HIV facility by someone you or your family knows, fear of the test results, fear of the social stigma etc. The list can go on forever.
True courage is what we need. It is true courage that makes us overcome the social stigma, the judgements thrown at us, the jitters we get when it's time for the test results. In fact, it was courage I asked for myself to have the guts to be tested, for in the absence of fear, there you find peace.
Let us not only find the courage to fight for ourselves but also for the infected individuals, especially LGBT's fighting HIV-AIDS. As young people, let's volunteer for them. Let's give them hope when they have doubts, care when they long for it and the love when they need it. They are just like us. They are not different. They are humans.
Let's fight for education and awareness of HIV-AIDS. Let's fight for the LGBT community and people living with HIV-AIDS. Let's fight together against HIV-AIDS and together we will see the new tomorrow beyond the rainbow.