HIV/AIDS is a disease with a rising incidence, and though it only affects the at-risk groups, raising awareness of the said disease is a must. In "Ang Paglalantad 3.0: HIV-AIDS in the Philippines", a public forum held at the College of Mass Communications last December 3, 2013, we students were informed about the facts and figures of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the different measures that the government and nonprofit organizations are doing.
In the Philippines, it was said that the rise of cases of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines had changed in the recent years. From “low and slow” it became “fast and furious”. Philippines has become one of the nine countries with highest rising cases. Before, around twenty years ago, mostly females were recorded to be affected by the disease, but in the recent years it has become mostly males. This is because there is a rise in male to male sex, which is usually unsafe. Males do not use condoms due to different reasons, mainly because it is not available. Also, younger and younger people are being infected by the virus.
The government is now trying to control the rising incidence by promoting awareness and safe sex. Other organizations, meanwhile, encourage people, especially those who are at-risk, to take the test. They also focus on programs to educate the people about it.
From these facts and figures that were given, I believe that promoting awareness is a must and that it doesn’t matter if the group that is being educated is an at-risk group or not. All Filipinos must know the facts about the virus and the disease. This is not to raise alarm and panic. In reality, it is the misinformation spreading that was causing fear. Such an example was the spread of the rumor that a person can be infected through blood-contaminated ketchup. Educating people and spreading the right information puts a stop to this, and it would help the population understand the situation. Having all the right facts would also help in the prevention of the spread of the disease, which is the first and foremost goal in educating the people. Also, it would encourage the at-risk groups to take a rest, instead of just living in fear of not knowing. Finally, it would help erase or at least lessen the discrimination against those who are affected by the virus/disease. The people would be able to understand those who are affected, and instead of discriminating or exiling those people, the population would instead support them and help them.
I learned a lot from the forum, not only just the facts, but also how we, as Filipinos, can help our own fellow countrymen who are suffering from the disease itself and the stigma it holds.