Involvement as a researcher

Ryan

I was first introduced to ACHIEVE late last year and from then on, I developed a big trust on their endeavor to look after the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), who might have gone through some rough times in foreign lands due to being infected with HIV. For many people I know who have experienced being chained and locked-up in a facility, being prevented from pursuing their employment in that country, being eventually deported and placed in the immigration blacklist, ACHIEVE is a refuge to them or should I say to us... Yes, I myself had experienced everything I have mentioned above. Although I had not known ACHIEVE then, I am proud that I have known them now and I was given an opportunity to participate in a research project with them. They were good enough to put their trust in me to participate in various programs, trainings, seminars and focus group discussions. These activities have helped me develop my skills, learn more about the status of HIV-related activities in the country, and know the effectiveness of such activities in helping the community accept the reality that HIV is around us.

I got involved in ACHIEVE’s project, “Reducing HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination through Policy Review and Advocacy and Building Media Competency”. One of the components of the project was a policy review on the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 (RA 8504). Specifically, it entailed the conduct of a survey on the utilization of RA 8504 by people living with HIV (PLHIV) who have experienced discrimination.

I got involved in the survey and it was a pleasure to contribute a part of my knowledge in reviewing and improving the survey instrument. I was also involved in encoding the survey data. I firmly believe that it is about time that we should seek a deeper understanding of the law that protects PLHIV and how to utilize it in order to make the law work
for us.

Ever since my involvement in this project, I have discovered the importance of fighting for my own rights and to enjoy my liberty, just like everyone else. We are all human, and in any way we look at it, we are all equal. And this equality does not make someone like me who lives with the virus, less of a person.

I am still hoping that through the continuous efforts of ACHIEVE, its partner organizations and the people from my own community, stigma will soon disappear in the dictionary of HIV and AIDS terminologies. We need to promote acceptance to enable people to eventually come out, especially those who have long been hiding from reality.

As I hope for a better future, which means a reduction of HIV-related cases and improvement of the conditions of PLHIV, I vow to support the programs of ACHIEVE. I believe so much in their endeavors and I hope I can continue my life's journey with them in promoting awareness to the community and in empowering all PLHIV.

Thank you so much, ACHIEVE!!!

AIDAN
HIV Counselor/Peer Educator