Fighting for the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV has always been my passion. I am very proud that through my life achievements I was named as one of the “faces of the Filipinos” by CNN and one of “26 extraordinary humans of the world” by BBC.
When I was diagnosed with HIV in 2010, I barely saw any information about HIV in The Philippines. I thought I was the only person living with HIV and I was so afraid. I had to hide my status until I had no choice but to tell my family in February 2015.
When I decided to share my HIV status publicly on national television, I told people “There’s always a choice – Look back and regret or look back, move on, and live life with purpose.” Since my coming out, I realised that my family and closest friends embraced me wholeheartedly as who I am.
One day, when I visited a hospital ward for people living with HIV, my heart broke when I saw their situation. Some even didn’t have family members to visit them. I told myself that I never wanted to see myself in this situation and committed to become the voice of my fellow people living with HIV. Being a very optimistic and resilient person who loves cycling, I started an organisation, Pedal for HIV,to raise HIV awareness through sports-related activities.
It is very important for me to share my life journey with other people. It is a way to help educate people about HIV and show that we are the same people they love and care for. And even though we think our story is not that important, every person’s story is unique and there will always be people who will be inspired by it.
HIV does not define who we are, but we define how we live with HIV.
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