MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, Feb. 8 (PIA) -- His name is “Boy,” but to be honest, that is not his real name. Obviously, he possessed feminine characteristics, yet it did not deter him to be strong, to be standing against the world, a world sometimes indifferent to people like him.
“I want to educate families -- every member of a family -- all about Human Immunodeficiency Virus,” he said, his words sounding with built-in power, in an interview at a posh resort a couple of months back. He knew what he was saying -- he himself has HIV in his system, one person among the more than 38,000 in the Philppines that contacted the ailment. It started in the year 2000 when he was about to go back to his work abroad, as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), but was denied for having tested positive. The revelation resulted in days and nights of seemingly endless tears; somehow he was able to carry on, to go back to his senses, and managed over time to face the community. A year earlier, in 1999, he got married, a union that bore a son, and this status doubled the anxiety: will the son be infected? By 2003 he and his wife parted ways. His break came in 2006 when he got connected with a non-government organization whose main task was to provide an atmosphere of care and understanding to people like Boy. He was sent to a conference abroad to represent the Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI). He did not return as expected, for he made use of the opportunity to scout for livelihood. His efforts produced envy-inducing best results. Multi-tasking was not a common term then, but he did just that, juggling three jobs -- at a bakery, laundry, and one other task -- in a day just to have a stable source of income. When he finally decided to return in 2014, he devoted his life full time at joining PAFPI, a payback, sort of; it is in this group that he was instrumental in spreading hope and cheer to fellow individuals, inspiring them to come out for voluntary testing. Boy was ninth in a brood of 12, and despite his condition he was able to deliver the promise of a decent living to his family in his nine years of toil in foreign land. Now, aged 42, he declared he had been a person living with HIV for 16 years and counting, and he is still active, but that was because he had pledged early on to change his ways for the better, to have a healthy lifestyle, and he had never strayed on this vow. His son is now 19, healthy as a bull, and luckily the infection was not transmitted. Boy would not delve in detail on how he got the HIV, saying only that it probably happened during his first foray outside the country, the years prior to 1999, when he was still single. This week, the Department of Health (DOH) disclosed in a nationwide primetime TV report that last year some 550 bags of donated blood were found infected, but these were thrown away immediately upon discovery, and were not used in blood transfusion. Boy certainly did not get it that way. (ajc/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)