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Forcing people with HIV to disclose to get vaccinated

The continuing narrative of a Filipino living with HIV as he seeks to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Photo by lalesh aldarwish from

By R12 “Xander”

Kung akala mo’y dahil qualified kang magpabakuna laban sa COVID-19 ay mababakunahan ka na, nagkakamali ka.

Akosi Xander, isang Pilipinong may HIV – na ang nagasabi sa iyo na kahit ako, qualified sa Priority Group A3, ay tila malalampasan ng bakuna due to the hindrances people like me inadvertently encounter.

Ganito yun…

This March, the Department of Health (DOH) issued a memo on the vaccination of PLHIVs (bilang bahagi ng Priority Group A3: persons with comorbidities). Maganda ang hangarin; pero – as usual – hanggang hangarin lang yata.

Halimbawa, this memo states the need for medical certificate for PLHIVs to be included in A3. May medical sense naman; baka kasi di ka talaga muna dapat bakunahan kaya dapat kumuha ka muna ng clearance sa doktor mo.

And so I finally got my medical certificate… matapos ang tedious process.

Eto pa: I actually coordinated with people working in my treatment hub; and one had the gall to tell me that if PLHIVs are not happy with how they deliver their services, “umalis sila; wala naman pilitan ito eh.May panahon na nalilimutan din ng mga taong ito ang tungkulin nila; kung saan kinukuha ang sahod nila; at… puwede rin naman silang umalis kung sa pakiramdam nila ay ayaw nila pagsilbihan ang mga kliyente nila. This really isn’t a one-way street, sa totoo lang.

Anyway, maliban sa sama ng loob, I can now proceed to the registration.

And here, tambak na naman ang issues, mga balakid para hindi mabakunahan ang tulad kong PLHIV.

Halimbawa, the DOH memo stipulates that local government units (LGUs) should ensure vaccination of PLHIVs by conducting or scheduling “either in a separate site/facility… or in current LGU vaccination sites but at a separate date from the other populations”. This is to “keep privacy and confidentiality of patients.”

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I-emphasize natin yung “privacy” and “confidentiality” of patients.

But there are local government units (LGUs) with online portals that force PLHIVs to disclose… everything, including their HIV status. Mas marami pang data kesa sa National ID o passport mo.

Makati City, for instance, requires registrants to disclose their HIV status. And – to boot – upload their medical certificate.

I remember when the vaccine rollouts started, the City of Manila did this, too; but the city changed its approach. Now a PLHIV only has to bring his/her medical certificate at the venue of the vaccination.

In any case, and again kung ang Makati portal ang gagamitin nating halimbawa, we have data mining to the Nth level. Aside from your name, birthday and address, malalaman din nila all these information about you:

  1. Employer mo
  2. Address of employment
  3. Trabaho mo sa pinapasukan mo
  4. ID number mo

At, yun na nga:

  1. HIV status mo
  2. And paki-upload na rin ng medical certificate mo
Screenshots of the vaccination registration portal of Makati City

Incidentally, the DOH may be cognizant of possible data leaks – i.e. its memo states that Data Privacy Act and other laws related to data handling is in full force. But… may kilala ka bang na-demanda dahil nag-tsismis sa HIV status ng isang Pilipino? This is almost like telling us to disclose everything, and… mag-demanda ka na lang kung na-violate na rights mo. Hindi preventive na polisiya eh

In short, to say hello to COVID-19 vaccine, be willing to say goodbye to “privacy” and “confidentiality”, borrowing the words of DOH.

So where I am now? Still going through my options para mabakunahan kung kelan man yan…

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