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HIV/AIDS on Philippine Primetime
POSTED ON 06 December 2012, 1:08 PM
A review by Boy Positibo

A massive information drive via social media and other channels marked this year’s World AIDS day in the Philippines. Part of the large-scale awareness campaign was the topic of HIV/AIDS on local primetime TV, reaching millions throughout the country, as Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK), the longest-running and most-watched drama anthology in the Philippines, featured the story of two young men afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

MMK presented the life of Kevin and Allan (portrayed by Carlo Aquino and Joem Bascon), bisexual partners who unknowingly acquired HIV through their promiscuous lifestyle. It provided the audience a window to the clandestine world of the homosexual/bisexual men in our country. A world where as Allan puts it, "casual sex is normal and having multiple sexual partners is acceptable." The story tells of how love between two persons can endure, in spite of HIV/AIDS, until death. It showcased information on how HIV progresses to AIDS, how the latter can be prevented, how HIV is treated and how stigma on the disease and the views on homosexuals can affect the life of those inflicted with HIV and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS in our country.

The feature affirms the current trend of HIV infection in the country wherein 80% of the newly detected cases belong to the MSM and gay community. On the downside, it seems to imply that all and only homosexual and bisexual men engage in promiscuous and polygamous sexual relationships.

At the end of the feature, MMK host, Charo Santos explains that HIV can infect anybody – homosexual, heterosexual, man, woman, children or adult. It chooses no one. While she clearly points out that the episode does not mean to give prejudice to the bisexual and homosexual community, it could have been better clarified that homosexual activity is not the cause and breeding ground of HIV.

Unprotected sex, risky sexual behavior, ignorance about HIV and the lack of knowledge on how to protect oneself from the virus are the main reason why it proliferates. Moreover, it would have been better if the idea of being monogamous and engaging into safer sex was given emphasis as the best way to protect oneself from acquiring HIV.

But in general, the feature is an eye-opener. Carlo Aquino and Joem Bascon's characters were stunning and heartwarming. The musical scoring featuring the song Ikaw at Ako by Johnoy Danoy added a great theme to it. After the episode social networking site Twitter was abuzz with positive response, as many empathized to the plight of homosexuals and those who are inflicted with HIV/AIDS, and even became the trending topic for that night.

The issue on HIV/AIDS is brought out in the open and it managed to reach millions of audience. While the feature fell short in showing concrete ways to protect oneself from acquiring HIV, it gave a general view to viewers that the virus is very much here, and everyone, be it straight or homosexual, is susceptible to acquring it.
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