FEU Med Tech Student Slams PLHIV For Posting Anniversary HIV Confirmatory Result

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FEU Med Tech Student Slams PLHIV For Posting Anniversary HIV Confirmatory Result

 

Facebook is a place for milestones: anniversaries with your partner, passing the board exam, getting a
new job, achievements of your children, siblings, and spouse or yourself. Or let’s just say, in general,
those little milestones that you would like to look back years from now.

 

But what if you post milestones of ending finish lines and not of finish times for being a PLHIV?

 

It wasn’t the usual congratulatory remarks or words of encouragement that Mr. Jeron Laurino Osiana got when he posted his HIV Confirmatory result 8 years ago. He’s celebrating his 8th anniversary. He is a PLHIV and the Founder of Red Tent Philippines, a group aiming to help spread awareness regarding HIV and lend support for PLHIV.

 

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I don’t know him personally. But when I started blogging about HIV awareness, my circle of friends on FB grew to a circle of PLHIV and advocates who are working for a common goal. He became part of that
circle. And I salute Jeron for posting such.

 

The context of his post was to inspire PLHIV and to show the world that indeed, there is life after being
diagnosed with HIV. He’s positive both with his status and life. And now he is extending his reach to help people who are perhaps on the same shoe that he’s in.

 

But such noble cause or should-be inspirational post wasn’t left unscathed from discriminatory and
indifferent remarks from his circles of online friends. And that is natural. We are not in open-minded
Western or Asian countries like Thailand that are very open to talk about HIV out in the open for
awareness in order to let people know about it, debunk myths, and to curb its rise, in one way or
another.

 

Upon checking his post, I was quite curious about what people have to say with the courage that Jeron gathered in order to post an inspirational message—and not otherwise.

 

Then, comments from a certain Mr. Ken Andrei Meyer caught my attention.

 

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Mr. Meyer prides himself as a 3rd year Med Tech student who, of course, we would normally think is
quite aware of things like HIV since he is in the medical field (or school). But as a blogger for HIV
awareness, I can’t help but feel bad for the succeeding comments and posts that I’ve read while making
this blog.

 

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I am trying to view from the perspective where he was looking the context from and where he was
coming from. I know for sure that he has reasons for posting such comments as Jeron has with his HIV
status. I may be wrong but I want to raise some points that I think would be beneficial for the two
parties, especially for Mr. Meyer.

 

Concern vs. Unintentional Discrimination

 

By the looks of it, Ken was just concerned with Jeron for posting his HIV Confirmatory result on
Facebook. After all, we have been so accustomed to gay men who are posting their non-reactive or
negative results on Facebook. But the thing about this is, we are self-stigmatizing the HIV community by
doing such.

 

(Related: Just How Self-Stigmatizing Is the Gay Spectrum In The LGBT Community?)

 

And with the case of Ken, he was quite aware that perhaps some people who are not aware of the
Jeron’s case would discriminate him. On the other hand, Jeron was posting something out of spreading
awareness with the hopes of inspiring people and making them aware that HIV doesn’t make him any
less of a person. And Jeron was thankful not because he was infected, which most would associate
derogatorily, but because he found a new perspective of loving himself.

 

I hope that Ken should’ve just sent him a PM so it wouldn’t turn out to be indifferent to him since it was
obviously unintentional discrimination. Or was he really feeling a bit of a stigma regarding HIV despite
being a Med Tech student?

 

 

Medically And Politically Correct Terms

 

While the Jeron kept it cool, his fellow PLHIVs and HIV awareness advocates cannot contain but to raise
their two cents of making Ken realize that his statements were out of topic and was a sugar-coated
stigma, in one way or another.

 

Another HIV awareness advocate and PLHIV, Mr. Faustine Luell Tupas Angeles Jr., questioned Ken’s questionable concern for Jeron. Being a staunch advocate for HIV awareness and as a Founder of Pedal For HIV, a campaign to spread HIV/AIDS awareness in the Philippines through cycling and sport-related activities, Faustine quite knows what he was talking about. He lives his talk—and even runs it, literally and figuratively—making him a credible person to give a piece of a lesson to Ken.

 

They both raised their personal “red flags” of war on guard regarding the sensitive issue. Ken mentioned that HIV is a health condition. While Faustine further explained:

 

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Perhaps, Ken used the term “medical condition” to address both HIV AND AIDS while Faustine focused
more on the topic at hand, which is HIV and NOT AIDS per se. While the other banks on his strength
being a Med Tech student, the other one plants his arguments with his own personal experience as a PLHIV and things that he has learned as an HIV Counselor.

 

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License vs. Certified HIV Counselor

 

I can’t help but check the profile of Ken. And as per his FB account and his statements, he is a 3rd year Med Tech student from FEU.

 

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He posted this on his wall:

 

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He doesn’t want to listen to Faustine, being a PLHIV and HIV Counselor, as the former is “not a licensed
educator.” To keep things straight, I am not a graduate of nursing or pre-med courses nor I took
medicine in my graduate studies. But I had myself certified by DOH to be an HIV Counselor for my blog.
It was a personal choice I took to address the needs of the MSM (males having sex with males)
community when it comes to HIV awareness using my blog. After all, if I wouldn’t, nobody else will.

 

My question is, does it make me unqualified to blog about HIV or any health concerns explainable by the medical field?

 

But as a DOH Certified HIV Counselor, I know I can counsel AND educate gay men about HIV/AIDS. And I don’t think that there is no license or licensure exam to undertake in order to become an HIV Educator in the Philippines. Correct me if I am wrong. I believe, so long that you have the heart to counsel and serve the HIV awareness community, then you can educate and put your heart into it. Plus, DOH wouldn’t certify just anyone for no reason or basis at all.

 

What I think what Ken was pertaining to is that, since he is in the “medical field,”—which I suppose he
should finish his degree first before claiming such—he wouldn’t listen to Faustine who is willing to
educate him being a PLHIV and HIV Counselor. After all, he thinks he knows better than Faustine does.

 

But let’s remember that learning isn’t about what we have learned and will be learning from the four walls of the classroom. It can also be derived from people who have been there and are there–just like our teachers.

 

To Jeron, you are such an inspiration for the PLHIV community and especially for us HIV awareness
advocates. Thank you for courageously showing the world that there is life after an HIV-reactive diagnosis. That you can still a quality life for yourself and for others. That you can still be positive with your perception in life and that you can still do more for the society.

 

To Ken, I know that there is a bunch of concern with what you have displayed in Jeron’s post. But it
doesn’t hurt for you to learn and be open to criticisms especially from people who are in the shoe you
are spitting on. As you’ve mentioned, you are a 3rd year Med Tech student. There are a lot of things to
learn. It is not all about bragging that you are in a specific field and you know everything. You can also
learn from people who have the first-hand experiences that are wholeheartedly doing their best to
alleviate the stigma of HIV in the Philippines. And being in a medical field, you must be the one to
uphold an unbiased perspective to issues such as HIV/AIDS and ought to care for patients that you
will soon work with.

 

There is nothing to lose in being open to new things and learn not just from the books but also from life
in general. Learning is acquiring as asking wouldn’t make you less of a learner. Accordingly, HIV will not
make you lesser of a person who can live a quality life, a person capable of loving, and a prime mover in
the society. We must learn that you do not need to be HIV positive to talk about HIV or be kind to PLHIVs, you just need to be human. Let’s share the love. Not the virus. HIV is a virus. Stigma isn’t. And I have a good news for you, Ken. One has a cure already.

 

FEU MedTech Student Slams PLHIV For Posting Anniversary HIV Confirmatory Result

Joemar Belleza
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Joemar Belleza

Blogger-In-Chief at Bakla Po Ako, Confirmed!
Joemar is the Blogger-In-Chief of BaklaPoAko.Com. He is currently a graduate student in University of the Philippines Open University. He also studied at Maquillage Professionnel School of Makeup Artistry and School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA). He is a bold advocate of education, environment and LGBT issues. An earner, dreamer and a lover. Before he was once a dream-sprouting seed. Now he's a tree in his renaissance and will always be evergreen. Hear him speak with his intelligent guide for gay news of the Philippines and worldwide, Bakla Po Ako. Confirmed!.Follow him on Twitter @belleza_joemar. Gay it forward!
Joemar Belleza
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About Joemar Belleza 332 Articles
Joemar is the Blogger-In-Chief of BaklaPoAko.Com. He is currently a graduate student in University of the Philippines Open University. He also studied at Maquillage Professionnel School of Makeup Artistry and School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA). He is a bold advocate of education, environment and LGBT issues. An earner, dreamer and a lover. Before he was once a dream-sprouting seed. Now he's a tree in his renaissance and will always be evergreen. Hear him speak with his intelligent guide for gay news of the Philippines and worldwide, Bakla Po Ako. Confirmed!. Follow him on Twitter @belleza_joemar. Gay it forward!