To address the increasing gap on care and support services for the increasing number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Philippines, Ekklesia Tou Theou – Church of God (ECOG), Bahaghari Advocacy Group, HIV Awareness Campaign Group, and The Well started holding mutual psychosocial and spiritual support for PLHIVs at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).
“When a person has HIV… they don’t need testing, they need wellness. The first thing we do is sit down and do a personal wellness plan. The next important thing is following the personal wellness plan. Because we are human beings and we interact with each other, we can support and encourage each other in following our personal wellness plan,” said Bishop Richard Mickley, coordinator of the The Well, an LGBT and PLHIV healing center.
Fr. Regen Luna of ECOG facilitated inputs on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression (SOGIE) to participants who were mostly gay, bisexual, and transgender people who were living with HIV. Meanwhile, Dindi Tan of the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines shared the struggle of transgender people in the country.
“Nakikita ko madalas sa Facebook ang mga negatibong pananaw ng mga LGBT sa kapwa LGBT, lalo na sa mga transgender women. Kailangan natin pag-usapan ang homophobia at transphobia, at ang pag-aaral ng SOGIE ay isang malaking tulong (I usually see on Facebook the negative views of LGBT on fellow LGBT especially on transwomen. We need to talk about homophobia and transphobia and studying SOGIE is a big help),” said Luna.
The faith-based LGBT groups are eyeing to hold regular PLHIV support sessions and in maintaining the practice of personal wellness plans for PLHIV in partnership with other churches such as the NCCP.
“How do we conquer the virus? That is the key to the wellness, we conquer the virus by strengthening what the virus weakens. Our whole wellness plan is based on that. We make suggestions to each other and help each other. We share what doesn’t work for me. On the CD4, we sit down with people and when they get their CD4 report we take a look at our wellness plan. We go step by step through the wellness plan and whatever they are not following in their wellness plan, their CD4 show it,” Mickley ended.