MANILA, Dec. 30, 2012—Christmas —just as everyday is— becomes bearable for people staying in San Lazaro hospital’s “H4″ ward, a specific section for people living with HIV (PLH), because of the “accompaniment” or the presence of special people in their life.
More support, lesser judgment
According to Fr. Dan Cancino, regional coordinator of Southeast Asia HIV and AIDS Catholic Network, emotional and spiritual support given to people living with HIV or even with full-blown AIDS is something that keeps them going.
“A lot of people with HIV want to change their behavior but do not have the support,” Cancino said.
Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS for Caritas Internationalis Rev. Msgr. Robert Vitillo in an interview, also talked about the problem of discrimination against PLH, “We still have here in the Philippines a very serious problem of with stigma and rejection even by family members so we need to teach people to take care of those in their families and those in their neighborhood living with HIV.”
During a training on HIV, Cancino, who has been serving in a ministry for PLH for 8 years now, said, interaction with PLH should not be based on judgment.
“The first question should not be, ‘how did you get infected?’ ” he said.
According to Sr. Amy Torres, DC of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, aside from providing counseling, recollections and facilitating PLH’s reception of the sacraments, what she can offer most is her acceptance.
“Mahalin mo lang sila (Just love them),” Sr. Amy, who has served PLH ever since coming back from foreign mission in Lebanon, said.
As if remembering old friends, she talks about how she often shares plates with people living with HIV, noting how much they are touched by the gesture of acceptance.
It is still a commonly-held belief that HIV can be passed on through saliva; but it is not.
According to the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry, as of October 2012, there were 295 new HIV cases, which is 48% higher compared to the same month last year. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]