An event – called #REDxSUMMER, an out-of-town summer event exclusive for people living with HIV (PLHIV) – is slated on March 29 to 30.
The event is an offshoot of #REDx, which was an exclusive Christmas event for PLHIVs held in Laguna, and which was supposedly a one off event.
“The success of #REDx was both overwhelming and unexpected leading to closely bonded friendships. This eventually led to addressing this group of online PLHIV friends as #REDxROYALES. We went on to having regular gatherings as a form of psycho social support for those living with HIV (through) gatherings maybe in bars, coffee shops, over dinner/movies, a sports venue or simply in the residence of any willing #REDxROYALES,” said Daddy Drew*, one of the key people behind #REDxSUMMER. “Note that we do not refer to ourselves as a formal organization; we are a group of friends with different personalities from different walks of life. As #REDx friends, we look after the health of one another, we look at the CD4 results and ARV compliance, visit friends when sick, or simply be there when one needs a friend.”
According to Daddy Drew, #REDxSUMMER “intends to further promote a stronger bond within the PLHIV community. There is no compulsory attendance as we respect the schedules and other issues of our friends. As friends, we want to let everyone know that we are here for one another.”
As such, “we would like to invite PLHIVs from the different organizations working on HIV, like PinoyPlus, CebuPlus, Babae Plus, The Love Yourself Project, PAFPI, The Red Ribbon Project, and others. We intend to reach out to the different hubs and treatment clinics as well,” Daddy Drew added.
Already, #REDx has reached out to PLHIVs in other regions, and has sent invites to friends in Visayas and Mindanao, including in the cities of Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, General Santos and Cagayan De Oro. Some PLHIV friends from Singapore and Malaysia have also been invited. There are also plans to reach transgender PLHIVs.
In the end, “#REDxSUMMER hopes to strengthen old friendships and create new ones. #REDxSUMMER is about having fun. We plan to do this the minute the group leaves Manila until and after the event ends up North,” daddy Drew said. “We also strongly hope to drive a spirit of fun and camaraderie as we recognize the need for emotional and social support within the PLHIV community.”
If anyone is interested, two things are required: (1) That he or she is HIV positive, and (2) that he or she wants to meet new friends and have fun. However, “we do allow serodiscordant partners who: (1) have been in a long term relationship with any PLHIV, and (2) have been personally met by the group in a few previous small gatherings,” Daddy Drew said.
PLHIVs who are interested to join may inquire via Twitter by looking for @dvocateHIV (Daddy Drew). In Facebook, they may look for firstname.lastname@example.org, or directly email queries at the same address.
*NAME CHANGED AS REQUESTED BY THE INTERVIEWEE