Thursday, October 11, 2012

HIV/AIDS Facts and Support

I was at UP-PGH Manila yesterday to attend a talk on HIV/AIDS and I want to share with my blog readers here the facts they need to know about HIV. The epidemic of HIV/AIDS in this country is getting worse by the day. After I arrived home and switched on the television, I was greeted with a news headline on, guess what, HIV/AIDS! According to that news report there were 270+ new cases recorded in the month of August of this year. Furthermore, the rate of infection nowadays is one new infection every three hours whereas before it used to be one new infection every three days - a very alarming statistics indeed.

The Facts

  • HIV weakens the body's immune system.
  • AIDS has no cure...up to now.
  • TB, pneumonia, hepatitis, etc. are opportunistic infections that can cause death of people with AIDS.
  • People with HIV can look healthy and feel healthy.
  • Often, people with HIV don't even know they have the virus.
  • Everybody is at risk of getting HIV.
  • Discrimination and poverty are associated with HIV/AIDS.

How is HIV/AIDS Transmitted?

  • Promiscuous sexual intercourse.
  • Receiving infected blood and blood products in a transfusion or organ transplant.
  • Sharing needles in drug use and other injecting and skin-piercing instruments.
  • From HIV-positive mother to her baby during pregnancy, delivery and breast feeding.

How Can We Prevent HIV/AIDS Transmission?

A. Practice abstinence before marriage.

95% of reported HIV/AIDS cases are transmitted through sex.

The absolute way to protect yourself is to abstain from sex.

Say NO to pre-marital sex!

Sex is a gift from God to be celebrated, enjoyed and treated responsibly within the sanctity of marriage. Do not squander it!

B. Practice Monogamy. Be Faithful to One Uninfected Partner

If you are married, maintain a long-term, mutual, faithful relationship with that partner. Monogamy is part of the vocation to marriage. While it can be difficult, God, through the Sacrament of Marriage, will provide the grace necessary to face the challenges.

Remember that having many partners increases your risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS!

Say NO to extra-marital sex!

C. Treat sexually transmitted disease as promptly as possible.

STIs increase the person's susceptibility to HIV infection. Always consult your doctor for treatment.

D. Go for voluntary counseling and HIV testing.

The only way to know if you have HIV is thru HIV test.

Early detection is the best cure for HIV & AIDS and it prevents transmission of the virus.

Pregnant women with HIV must seeking medical treatment to protect their baby from HIV.

E. Safe sex through condom use is not really safe.

"There is a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the US-funded Demographic Health Surveys, between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV infection rates." -- Edward C. Green, Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the US Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (March 2009)

This is because the so-called benefit offered by condom makes the person take greater chances, and thus, greater risk of exposure to the virus, a phenomenon called risk compensation.

Authentic sexual values and respect for the human person protect YOU and your family from HIV AIDS!

F. Make sure that the blood you need is screened for HIV.

Refuse to be transfused with unscreened blood. Get blood only from reputable blood banks accredited by the Department of Health.

G. Ask for Information.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and learn more about voluntary confidential counseling & HIV testing. HIV test is free in DOH-accredited treatment hubs. You can also visit my blog post on HIV Testing Centers in the Philippines to locate the nearest social hygiene clinic or treatment center in your place. Here are additional hotlines that you can call:

Faith-Based Organizations:

-Caritas Filipinas (02) 527-4147

Daughters of Charity (02) 523-1460; (02) 838-3961; CP# 0919-7938255
Camillus Pastoral Healthcare Center (02) 926-3147
Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) (02) 735-6021 loc 201; (02) 734-4703

Government Treatment Hubs:

Philippine General Hospital, Manila  (02) 567-3394

San Lazaro Hospital (02) 743-8301 loc 6000
Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (02) 566-8807; (02) 807-2628 loc 208
Philippine National AIDS Council (02) 743-8301 loc 2550

Support Groups

Plus, Manila  (02) 743-7293

Positive Action Foundation of the Philippines (PAFP)  (02) 567-3506

HIV/AIDS is NOT transmitted through:

  • Hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing food/drinking utensils.
  • Mosquitoes and other insect bites.
  • Swimming in a pool or sharing of toilet seats.

What can you do to eliminate HIV-related stigma in your community?

Stigma usually stems from ignorance and fear. Now that you know the facts about HIV/AIDS, share your knowledge to your family and friends.

0% Fear | 100% Love

AIDS is not a punishment from God. It rather calls every Christian to follow Christ in His ministry of healing, mercy, and love.

As a community of faith, reflect on the CBCP Pastoral Letters on AIDS released in 1993 and 2011.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) & Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) can be prevented with behavioral change and strong faith life. It is your personal choice. Only YOU can prevent it!

"The problem of HIV/AIDS cannot be overcome with mere slogans. If the soul is lacking...the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms...The solution can only come through a two-fold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship above all with the suffering, a readiness - even through personal sacrifice - to stand by those who suffer." - Pope Benedict XVI

(Compiled by:  CBCP-NASSA, Caritas Filipinas, DOH)

Support the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Philippine Catholic HIV & AIDS Network (PhilCHAN) campaign:  Getting to Zero. Be true. Stay true.

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