A photo of a priest embracing a person with HIV in Manila has gone viral on different social media platforms. In a Facebook post, Fr. Alvin Pila of St. John of God Paris in San Rafael, Bulacan said that he was hesitant at first to embrace the person who was holding a sign that said “Free Hugs, I’m HIV+”. This hug was a great show from the priest and was a good example that can help fight the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV and other life-long STDs face every day.
Fr. Pila said, “I think it's Jesus’ way, with the people smiling waiting what will this priest do next? And it happened. I realized that I'm there hugging a fellow human suffering. Even God, even Jesus embraced our littleness and weaknesses.”
There are many people living with HIV and other STDs and they have to face discrimination and stigma from different people in the society. Once people find out that a person has a life-long STD, they tend to change their attitude towards them. In most cases, the society tends to avoid these people with a notion that they can get infected by just interacting with them like they have normally done.
Pila gave strength to people living with HIV by saying that, “We are all equal in God’s mercy.” In a Facebook post, Pila added that, “Ignore me and my vestment. It's the campaign to break the stigma. The Church loves you. Jesus loves you.”
Fr. Pila also encouraged the laity to be channels of God’s mercy and love,” HIV is non-contagious with hugs or handshakes. Let us break the stigma. They are humans like us, with illness but when treated well, they can live normally like us. Talk to them, console them, love them. We are all children of God, we are his family and family is love.”
The only way the Stigma that surround HIV will stop is if the society accepts that these are people with feelings and infection is not through interactions such as talking to someone, shaking their hands or hugging them. For those living with HIV, this is not the end of the world. With proper antiretroviral medication and healthy eating a person can live a healthy life. When it comes to dating, a site like Meet Positives can help in meeting positive singles that are interested in people living with the same STD as them.
SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]
Meet Positive is an alternative to dating and a second chance for positive singles who live with a sexually transmitted disease.
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