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Sun exposure and being poz

An HIV-positive Filipino was told to limit his time of sun exposure, and is unsure if this is sound advice. Dr. Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon provides needed information on this.

Dr. Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon – president of the AIDS Society of the Philippines and current Chief of Clinics of Sta. Ana Hospital – answers all your HIV-related inquiries. For all your questions, email or

Dear Doc,

I was told by a fellow HIV-positive person to avoid staying under the sun. Is this advice sound?

Sun-crazy Poz

The sun is one of nature’s lovely gift for humanity, as most fair complexioned people would like to look tanned particularly during the summer holidays. Others even want to sun bathe all year round just to have that golden brazen look! And besides, the sun is our source for Vitamin D, which is good for bone calcification.

But we all know for a fact that prolonged sun exposure is not also good to the skin as this further hastens aging (wrinkling of skin), and worst, can cause skin cancers.

So it is advised that sun bathing be done in moderation. Slather some sun protection SPF 15 and up and limit sun exposures to particular time periods (say from 10 to 15 minutes). Also, before sun exposure, adequate hydration is needed and constant rehydration of the skin and body must be done. No sun bathing should be done between 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, as this is the peak of UV light.

As we browse for available evidence-based studies on the relationship of HIV and sun bathing, not much has been proved yet regarding this. But what we could deduce is that with HIV, one’s immune system is low, sun exposure has a toll with immune system, so what we recommend is to limit sun exposures and follow the standard precautions.

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Remember that each individual may respond differently to sun exposures among people with HIV.

Fondly called Jojo, Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon is a medical doctor with specialization in obstetrics and gynecology. Spending much of his time in public health services with focus on HIV and AIDS, STI, and sexual and reproductive health, Jojo wears multiple hats, blending public health advocacy and clinical-cum-administrative work. For 12 years, he served as the Executive Director of Remedios AIDS Foundation, the pioneering AIDS service organization in the Philippines. Then in 2008, he assumed the presidency of the AIDS Society of the Philippines, which he still heads now. Jojo is also the current Chief of Clinics of Sta. Ana Hospital, and has held regional and local consultancy works for development agencies. Jojo is a self-confessed lacto-vegetarian, a raja yoga meditation practitioner, and a health/wellness buff. He also loves to share his thoughts and reflections based on learned skills/competencies and experiences. This soft-spoken soul loves taking on new initiatives/roles, and loves to talk with people about spirituality and good health.


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