Connect to Life, Connect to Love: New HIV Program Empowers Public to Better Healthcare

From left to right. Dr. Erwin Benedicto of Johnson and Johnson, Dr. Antoinette Evangelista , Program Officer of Dept. of Health, Edsel Salvana Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the National Institute of Health, Dr. Kate Leyritana, Medical Director of Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines; and Mr. Renier Louie Bona, HIV Counsellor

Connect For Life is a new comprehensive HIV Disease Management Program of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. This initiative is a collaboration between Janssen and the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP), a non-government organization running a specialist HIV care center in the Philippines General Hospital.  The goal of Connect For Life is to make people more aware about HIV and lessen the stigma still attached to it. Better healthcare can be achieved when attitudes about the illness is improved. The program also aims to enhance educational policies about HIV so that more Filipinos will know their available treatment options.

Let Me Be Your Shelter

A lot of people may wonder why this is important. “I shouldn’t get tested,” they say. “I am not affected OR infected.”

However, current statistics prove that the Philippines is one of seven countries whose number of HIV-infected individuals is increasing every year. What exacerbates the problem is the almost negligible amount of educational programs available. Furthermore, it is estimated that the H


IV care here is varied, with treatment options and doctor attitudes differing between regions.

What is more troubling is the fact the number of infected people is getting younger. That is, the age group with the biggest proportion of cases are n


ow teenagers – a significant change from how things were only a decade ago. It is estimated that 25% of HIV patients are between 15-24 years old. Health reports say that 95% of these are males, with 89% of those cases being among males having sex with other males.

A Year in a Life of Love

Chances are, you know someone who has the condition or is in relations with a HIV-positive person. How you react to this is also indicative of society’s view of the illness. Connect for Lifeseeks to change that with an incredible private and confidential user system.

Most cases of HIV are asymptomatic in the beginning. This means that a lot of people remain unaware of their risk until the condition has severely worsened; by which case, prognosis is dire. Health officials say that


prevention and early detection is key to living a happy and healthy life. Those who regularly engage in male-to-male intercourse are those who highly recommended to participate in the program. Those who are also at risk are those who use unsterilized needles or mothers who have the condition.

Connect for Life also debunks common myths that surround the disease. For example, many people treat HIV-positive people quite unfairly; even refusing to share a glass of water with them. HIV is transmitted through the transfer of excessive amount of bodily fluids. A small exchange of saliva will not give you HIV.

No Day but Today

The subsections of this article are lyrics in the musical “Rent” because it exemplifies the messag


e and spirit of the issue. It is unfair to assume that if one has HIV, one is different from society. There are many groups who care and wish to help. Connect For Life is a way for one to achieve better healthcare through proper information. Let this be your Christmas present to yourself: the gift of worth and love.

Other advocacy groups for HIV awareness and information in the Philippines are: the Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Incorporated (PAFPI), LoveYourself, Project Red Ribbon, Pinoy Plus Association, HIV Awareness Campaign Group, and UNAIDs.