D R . E L R O I


Monday, October 27, 2008

Sri Lanka HIV Youth Conference

REACH '08 or Rise for Equality and Act for a Change and Hope is the theme of the HIV & AIDS National Youth Conference of Sri Lanka by Save Lanka Kids organization and Community Concern Society held last October 19-21 at Waters Edge, Colombo the capital city.

I was invited to be a speaker and I talked about discovering and dealing sexual orientation and stigma and discrimination. In relation to HIV and AIDS, I dwelt more on homosexuality and its root cause and why they are more prone to infections. The funny thing that happened was when I presented the idea that a gay person can change, I have created a lot of curiosity and tension inside the conference hall. Since most of the people there believed that it is inborn or a choice, the idea that it was developed and started out within the family as well as the idea of change is somewhat new to them.

To be honest, I really felt bad after my talk coz I have no intention of creating controversies. I did not even mention about Christianity and Jesus Christ to show them respect for their spiritual and moral beliefs. I asked the Lord why am I feeling that way and why is this happening and later on God gave me an affirmation that everything is alright thru all the delegates and especially the organizers who approached me at the end of the day and after the conference and told me that my presentation was really good and beautiful and they liked it! I felt relieved and thank God for that. I almost turn my back on my Christian beliefs and go with the world the moment after my talk but the Lord reminded me immediately of His words in 1 Corinthian 6:9-11 and then I suddenly refreshed by the Holy Spirit!

The Lord has been truly with me all throughout the conference and during my flight going there and back to Manila coz I had very safe and smooth travel.

Thanks to my dear friend Clement of WV India for his recommendation, I became a part of this conference and I have gained a lot of friends there and met a lot of Christians! Thank you Lord for giving me this very wonderful experience! I hope and pray that this is only the beginning. I really want to share my life and what I know to the people around the world and hopefully be able to promote to them that kingdom living is the answer to cease the spread of HIV pandemic.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

HIV Prevention Strategies 3 - SAVE

Voluntary counseling and testing is a very good prevention strategy and indicator to know the actual number of people living with HIV and AIDS. It knows your HIV status.

Individuals who know their HIV status are in a better position to protect themselves from infection; and if they are HIV positive, from infecting another. Someone who is HIV positive can be provided with information and support to enable them to live positively. People who are ignorant of their HIV status or who are not cared for, can be sources of new HIV infection.

Empowerment of people with knowledge and skills especially women, protect themselves against HIV infection. It is not possible to make informed decisions about any aspect of HIV or sexual behavior without access to all the relevant facts. Inaccurate information and ignorance are two of the greatest factors driving HIV and AIDS related stigma and discrimination.

Correct, non-judgmental information needs to be disseminated to all; inside and outside of churches. This will assist people to live positively - whatever their HIV status - and to break down barriers which HIV has created between people and within communities. Education also includes information on good nutrition, stress management, and the need for physical exercise.

The acronym "SAVE" provides the added benefit that all religious and non-religious groups can identify with the fact that we want to save lives through multiple prevention strategies for instance, some denominations would not feel comfortable with the promotion or use of condoms and others might find it difficult to promote and distribute sterile needles to injecting drug users. But everyone will be able to identify with some of the strategies included in the "SAVE" acronym.

Let us "SAVE"!

Source: "Channels of Hope" workshop manual.

Friday, October 3, 2008

HIV Prevention Strategies 2

Greetings to all my readers! Happy birthday to my doctor!

Before I continue with the prevention strategies let me mentioned the local statistics of HIV infection as of July 2008. There were 53 who tested positive to HIV and more than half of it was through homosexual contact. It brings the total since 1984 to 3,358 and according to my doctor; there are 63 who were tested positive in SLH alone this August. You can check the NEC at www.doh.gov.ph and click the HIV icon there for updates.

Our duty is to move from ABC to SAVE. S stands for safe(r) practices, A is for access to treatment, V is for voluntary testing and E stands for empowerment.

Safe(r) sexual practices include all avoidance and risk reduction strategies like abstinence, delay of first sexual experience, mutual faithfulness in marriage, and correct and consistent use of condoms and reduction of number of sexual partners. It also includes policies and procedures to ensure safe blood supply, sterile equipment, adoption of universal precautions, and prevention of mother to child transmission, provision of sterile needles and syringes for injecting drug users and post exposure prophylaxis or PEP. You will notice that ABC is present already within safe or safer practices.

Access implies more than only the availability of medications, and the word "treatment" encompasses more than the word "medication". Therefore "access to treatment" includes the availability of medication, as well as access to the medication and all the necessary support services. It includes the access and availability of medication like ARVs, treatment of STIs and other OIs, treatment - education and support such as access to blood tests for monitoring and adherence as well as counseling, and nutrition for people with compromised immunities or on ARVs.

Access also implies the availability of comprehensive and correct information and education in order to make informed decisions for prevention, care and support. It also implies a supportive environment where stigma and discrimination have been reduced.

Next post I'll talk about the V and E.

Source: "Channels of Hope" workshop manual.