Human Rights Advocate
“The right to adequate health support and services.”
When AJ came back to Manila after a year overseas, the last thing he expected was to receive an email requesting financial assistance to defray his friend, Vin’s, hospital expenses. AJ did not even know Vin was sick or that he was in the hospital.
“I was surprised, but not alarmed. Vin was healthy, a tri-athlete. I didn’t think it was anything serious. And I didn’t ask. Vin was my friend in need. I didn’t need to know all the details in order to help.”
The times that AJ tried to visit Vin in the hospital, he was politely advised by family members that Vin was not ready to receive visitors.
“Once when talking to another friend, she said, ‘Ang hirap talaga pag AIDS’ – pertaining to Vin’s physical pain. I was shocked but tried not to show it. Until then, I had no idea what Vin was sick of.”
It was then that I began piecing things together. Vin’s sibling confirmed that he was often very weak and did not want friends to see him that way.
When Vin was gone, many questions went through my mind: When did he know he was positive? Were there times when he needed someone to talk to? When was the last time that I saw him and what did we talk about? Did I get to tell him everything I should have said? Because now, I can’t.
Vin was the first person with HIV/AIDS I knew who has passed on. It has made HIV/AIDS more real to me.
I have never before posed publicly for the cameras, but I am doing this in memory of a dear friend’s life that was well-lived.”