HIV/AIDS cases continue to rise

 With this staggering figure, DoH, local government units (LGUs), partner agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) are intensifying their information campaign as well as its program on voluntary confidential counseling and testing (VCCT).  According to Celestino Ramirez, founding member of Positive Action Foundation Philippines Inc. (PAFPI) and counselor for 20 years, the increasing numbers could be the result of the VCCTs. “If people have access to information, people would be enticed to visit the social hygiene clinics in their respective LGUs.”

 Ramirez, who first joined an HIV volunteer group in 1989 under Reach Out Asia Foundation, cites that any person in doubt if he is infected or not may avail of the free VCCT and visit the social hygiene clinics.  Also, he stresses on the importance of a proper pre-test counseling before any testing could be done and once the result was positive, the patient will then need a confirmatory testing and then a post-counseling.

 More so, Ramirez stresses that counseling, pre- and post-, prepares a person emotionally, psychologically and mentally to process and accept the result of his test.  Counseling will be crucial on how a person living with HIV (PLHIV) will manage the course of his life despite being positive, just like how 35-year-old Humphrey Gorriceta manages his life.
A Positive Voice

 "I was not always positive especially when I first learned of my condition in 2007.  I also went through a dark stage," Goricetti tells.

He was set to work in the Middle East and part of his requirement was to take an HIV test.  When the doctor finally broke the news that he was infected, he did not receive any post counseling but was rather told to report to his agency.
"I was confused and was even in denial.  So after receiving the confirmatory letter, I went to China the next month hoping to get away from the situation.  “I had this illusion that if I am in a place where people don’t know me, I can start over again.  But I realized that I need to start medication soon and that I have to go back to the Philippines.  I cannot deny that to myself," he relates.

Now, Gorriceta is actively involved in volunteer work and as a national spokesperson for the National Association of Filipinos Living with HIV and AIDS (NAFWA).  He, together with other volunteers coming from eight member organizations of NAFWA that include PAFPI, Pinoy Plus Association (PPA), Empowered of Iloilo, Mindanao Advocates, Crossbreeds of Bacolod, Cebu Plus and Babae Plus, are conducting regular trainings and conferences on HIV and VCCTs around the country.

source: Manila Bulletin