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December 1 is World AIDS Day and while the Philippines is not yet on the list of countries with the most number of reported cases, there has been a recent increase in the annual reported number of new HIV cases in the country, according to the United Nations AIDS Epidemic Update as of 2007. Reported cases rose from 193 in 2003 to 309 in 2006.
Along with the reported cases are stories of people living with and affected by the life-threatening disease. SPOT.ph turns the spotlight on some of the HIV/AIDS awareness advocates, each with their own stories to tell and revealing why they are baring it all for AIDS awareness:
Celdran's youth was marked by living a carefree life in New York City, which he discloses included a bi-sexual lifestyle.
"I was living and working in New York in the '90s. Back then when you met someone at a bar, the line of questioning was always: 'What's your name? What do you do? Where do you live? And are you HIV positive?' We might have been a bit promiscuous, but always careful and used condoms."
Celdran continues, "There are a lot of advancements that have been made in the field of HIV/AIDS in the last decade, and it's true that the infection is no longer a death sentence, but it's not something to be taken lightly either. There are a lot of people now who don't protect themselves because they are ignorant or complacent."
"Information is power and silence equals death. Don't be ignorant about HIV. Not only to protect yourself, but also the ones around you. HIV is a journey that affects everyone you love and who love you back.
Hopefully, the MSM community/other bisexual men out there will learn not be ashamed or confused about who or what they are and most of all, be careful in what they do."