MANILA, Philippines – In this week’s Sex and Sensibilities podcast, Rappler columnist Ana Santos talks to Wanggo Gallaga, an HIV/AIDS advocate who has been living with HIV for nearly 7 years.
Gallaga first came out as a person living with HIV (PLHIV) in December 2008, sharing the news with the media. His story has inspired advocates and kept several Filipinos from losing hope.
Wanggo first told the news to his family and friends, his strongest support system. “My family was always angry at the beginning a family of 7. Full of sermons. They all knew my lifestyle, I was gay, sleeping around. They were always telling me to use protection. I didn’t,” Gallaga said. But his family soon came around, “They started going online, researching. When I went to the hospital, they all took turns looking after me.”
In 2015, the World Health Organization said that Philippines has the world’s fastest growing HIV epidemic. The country’s new HIV cases have grown by as much as 1,038% in the past 6 years, the Department of Health reported.
At present, 21 Filipinos are reported to be infected with HIV daily. Since 1984, there have been 24,376 the cumulative cases.
Gallaga, however, is a living testimony that HIV is no longer a death sentence. Aside from medical advancements, education and awareness have improved. His story also tries to break the stereotypes attached to PLHIVs.
Gallaga was working as a freelance writer and editor when he was diagnosed. Did his health affect his career? How did employers react to the news? This week’s episode discusses the laws protecting PLHIVs, as well as the challenges and stigma they experience.
More importantly, HIV is preventable. Tune in to the podcast to learn of the many ways one can prevent acquiring the virus, such as by using condoms, practicing safe sex, and getting tested. – Rappler.com
#StayNegatHIVe is MovePH’s HIV/AIDS awareness campaign spearheaded by our communities across the Philippines, and held in partnership with DM9 and LoveYourself.
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