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From the Editor

HIV ‘advocates’ na sinasahuran ng hubs shouldn’t speak for the HIV community

When HIV treatment hubs start profiting off PLHIVs, no sane person should support this, much more “defend” this, particularly those coming from HIV advocacy and activism. But those funded by hubs tend to provide justifications because their loyalty lies with those who pay them, not with PLHIVs.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels.com

Buod (Gist): Erring HIV treatment hubs – or yung mga nangangamkam ng OHAT Package ng PhilHealth kahit na hindi nagbibigay ng tamang serbisyo para sa mga Filipinos na may HIV na naka-enroll sa kanila (or those that greedily collect OHAT Package from PhilHealth even if they do not render the appropriate services to Filipinos living with HIV who are enrolled with them) – should be sanctioned, even closed.

What they’re doing is profiteering. And no sane person should support this, much more “defend” this. Particularly those coming from HIV advocacy and activism. Because this practice actually harms the very people supposed to be helped – i.e. people living with HIV (PLHIVs) – while making some pockets thicker.

But – funny enough – there are actually HIV “advocates” who want to continuously “give chance to these erring hubs”. They give so many excuses why, including:

  • Kulang na nga ang hubs, babawasan pa (We lack hubs as it is, and we want to remove some)?
    The response: If hubs solely exist to steal money off people in need of help, they have no business existing in the first place.
  • Yung pera, lalo na sa government facilities, hindi naman pumupunta sa hubs; instead, naka-tengga sa bureaucracy (like local government units, or administrators of hospitals that helm the hubs, et cetera).
    The response: This excuse does NOT deal with the fact that money is still being taken even if services are still not given. Theft is theft… even if it is done by the “bosses” of those running the hubs (and not by those in the hubs themselves). The truth remains that those in these hubs know how much money is being kept not just from them, but from the people they claim to serve, and yet they just go with the flow anyway/act like it’s business as usual. So yeah, they’re enabling the bad practices, and should question the reason why they’re still there.

And then I noted that some of these “advocates” who almost always take the side of the erring hubs are: past or current paid employees of some hubs, or handled or still handle some of the pet projects of some hubs.

In short: Bayaran sila ng mga hubs (They’re paid by hubs).

Kaya puwede ba (And so please), if you can’t raise the actual issues of the PLHIVs, if all you do is excuse the bad practices of the hubs, ask yourself naman: If your presence causes harm to the people who you claim to serve, bakit ka pa andiyan (why are you even there) pretending to speak for a community you really just profit from?

Punahin ninyo (Check out) how some of these HIV “advocates” act:

  • Naubusan ng (There’s stockout/shortage of) antiretroviral medicines, and yet they do not call out the Department of Health’s continuing procurement issues. Instead, they even staunchly defend the hubs that end up dispensing only 15 tablets instead of three bottles of 30 tablets. As FYI: hubs CAN procure their own supplies to deal with ARV shortage/stockout, but do not do so.
    I have heard from PLHIVs who were told “ingrata (ungrateful)” for complaining about the additional costs incurred for more frequent hub visits to get meds, as if they’re at fault for the bad practices of DOH and the hubs.
  • Hindi nagbibigay ng CD4 and/or viral load tests ang ibang hubs (CD4 and/or viral load tests are not given by some hubs), and yet I have heard from PLHIVs who were told to “just be grateful someone’s still looking after you”, or “move to another hub”.
    And so yeah, enabling happens again, and there doesn’t seem to be any interest in making these hubs accountable.
  • Yung lantarang pinagtatanggol ang social climbing that’s been normalized in HIV “advocacy”.
    I met an “advocate” once, and she knows money is being wasted on useless events – e.g. photoshoots (usually of the supposed sosyal/socialites in the “advocacy), neverending seminars that gather people who never implement recommendations, et cetera. And yet she also believes in allowing the waste of resources; after all, “Hindi naman pera ng gobyerno yan (That’s not the government’s money anyway).” Then she said to me: “Hoy, kung may seminars, ako ang ipa-invite ha (By the way, if there are seminars, tell them to invite me). For representation.”

At this age when PLHIVs are supposed to have it better already because of medical advances, andami pa ring PLHIVs na namamatay (Too many PLHIVs still die), mainly because they are unable to access quality treatment, care and support services. At ayan na nga, paulit-ulit nating sinasabi, merong mga hubs na nangongolekta ng ₱39,500.000 per PLHIV per year from PhilHealth kahit di ginagawa ng maayos ang kanilang tungkulin (And, just as we have been stating repeatedly, there are hubs that collect ₱39,500.000 per PLHIV per year from PhilHealth even if they do not properly do their tasks). And when you see HIV “advocates” who do NOT represent the interest of PLHIVs, it’s no wonder why.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).

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