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Op-Ed

What will Bam Aquino do?

An open letter to Senatorial candidate Bam Aquino from a young person living with HIV who is actively involved in the Network to Stop AIDS Philippines (NSAP), a network of civil society organizations engaged in the HIV and AIDS response in the Philippines.

Dear Bam Aquino,

I am writing this letter to express my concern over the increasing number of young people who are getting infected with HIV in the Philippines. I was 19 years old when I was diagnosed HIV positive in 2008. As an aspiring Senator who claim to be representing the interests of the Filipino youth, we need you to take a stand on this issue and carry the agenda of preventing the further spread of HIV among our young Filipinos.

According to the February 2013 HIV and AIDS Registry released by the Department of Health (DOH), there were 339 individuals newly diagnosed HIV positive. Ninety-six (96) were among young people aged 15-24years old. From the period of January to February 2013 alone, there were 197 young people confirmed to be HIV positive.This figure in February 2013 is 24% higher compared to the reported cases in February 2012. At the end of 2012, a total of 2,814 Filipinos aged 15-24 years old have been diagnosed with HIV since 1984.

People living with HIV often experience stigma and discrimination because of their HIV status. These experiences are compounded when the person infected with HIV is young, unemployed and uneducated. If this country’s youth continue to be highly vulnerable to HIV infection, the country’s development will be greatly affected. And yet, the issue of HIV and AIDS remain buried and I have not heard any substantive discussion about HIV during this electoral campaign period.

As for me, I will vote for candidates who would truly accept the challenge posed by HIV and AIDS and the stigma and discrimination that goes along with it. I look forward to seeing a new breed of lawmakers who would champion the youth in the issue of HIV and AIDS. I want to see leaders who are committed to steering this country towards an AIDS free generation.

So I want to know, Mr. Aquino, will you stand with us, the young people who are living with HIV? What will you contribute to the HIV response to prevent the further spread of HIV, especially among the youth in our country?

Sincerely,
RN
C/- ACHIEVE Inc. – Secretariat of the Network to Stop AIDS Philippines (NSAP)
Tel: (+63 2) 4266147 | (+63 2) 4146130
Email: achieve_HIV@yahoo.com
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/NetworkToStopAidsPhilippines

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