Let’s talk about HIV at #HealthXPH!

#HealthXPH is proud to welcome Dr. Kate Leyritana as guest moderator for its tweet chat on June 14, 9 pm PHT. [box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This blog post was written by Dr. Katerina T. Leyritana and Dr. Leslie Colleeen A. Tiongson, physicians of the Sustained Health Initiatives in the Philippines (SHIP) Clinic. SHIP Clinic is a private-community partnership HIV service delivery model. Dr. Leyritana is also medical director of Focus Initiative Inc. while Dr. Tiongson is medical director of Skin Sanctuary.[/box] Nowadays, the average Filipino’s knowledge on HIV is likely based on soap opera renditions which depict HIV patients as suffering a terrifying, ill-fated life for the remainder of the six or so months after knowingtheir condition. That is how HIV is depicted in mainstream primetime media. To some, the existence of antiretrovirals is a miracle of the 21st century, despite the fact that it has been in existence in over 20 years, saving and prolonging lives worldwide. That sharing utensils and kissing do not spread HIV are new bits of information that some have just come across in the recent past. Despite the advent of smart phones, hi-tech gadgets and free wifi, accurate information about HIV is not readily accessible to most Filipinos. While friends on social media sites are in the hundreds, newly diagnosed HIV cases beginning 4 years ago

At present, one new HIV case is diagnosed every 1.5 hours. This puts the Philippines with 8 other countries whose HIV cases are rising, in contrast to the rest of the world wherein new cases are now on a downward trend. Filipinos are prolific socialmedia users, with our very own city of Makati recognized as the selfie capital of the world. Ironically, it is also from these same social media sites that false notions about HIV and AIDS are spread, further contributing to the already existing stigma surrounding the disease. The power of social media in accurate information dissemination cannot be over emphasized. We can use this influence to correct misnomers, remove the stigma, and get appropriate facts and support for people living with HIV (PLHIV). There are several members of the PLHIV community that are active online, and are each their own support system. These are untapped resources of knowledge and encouragement that may be harnessed from collaborative efforts of physicians, policy makers, patients and loved ones, so that other newly diagnosed PLHIV can get correct information, as well as much needed support in dealing with their diagnosis.

  • T1: How helpful are the social media sites in disseminating correct information about HIV and where to get medical help or social support once diagnosed?
  • T2: What can we do to improve the dissemination of information, provision of support and reduction of stigma/discrimination in the online community?
  • T3: How can online discussions translate to policy making/change focused on HIV prevention, de-stigmatization and improvement in fair health care for HIV patients overall?