Jun is a 30 year old male who used to work as a nursing aide in a private hospital prior to his HIV diagnosis.
Jun was respected in his barangay for being hard-working and devoted to his parents and siblings. He had a lot of friends at work and enjoyed a busy social life. He also had an active sex life as a man who has sex with other men.
In 2010, he was asked to submit to a laboratory test as a procedure for his blood donation in the same hospital where he was working.
The medical technologist who took his blood specimen found out that the blood sample was HIV positive, and in turn, informed the doctor assigned in the blood bank. The doctor then informed the owner of the hospital, who is also a doctor.
Jun found out about the result of the HIV antibody test only because people at work were already talking about him. He tried to make his life as normal as possible and continued with his usual work. However, the owner of the hospital stopped him from performing his usual duties.
The hospital owner once saw him taking care of a patient at the ward, and the owner shouted at Jun in front of the people in the ward, “How many times will I tell you that you should not go near any of the patient lest you infect everyone in this hospital with your virus!”
He was relegated to taking patients’ sickness history in the out-patient department of the hospital. He continuously heard hurtful statements from his co-workers that his HIV status brings shame to them. Because of this, he was eventually forced to stop working.
He told his family about the result of his HIV test. His family was shocked, and wanted to know why he had such a result. When he told his parents that he may have become infected because of male-to-male sex, his parents were furious and they forced him to leave the house immediately. When he pleaded with his parents, his father mauled and threatened to kill him.
Above is a true story. One of the cases presented to us by Commission on Human Rights that we studied and delved upon during this seminar/orientation I attended regarding HIV-AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Here, we discussed the human rights violations that were committed and the corresponding solutions. There were three cases presented and needless to say, it was the case of Jun that really sliced up my heart.
Jun may have committed a simple but grave mistake for having multiple sex partners which resulted to him contracting HIV. It was his choice and he is now facing the consequences of that choice. But the people around him, ironically who are doctors and nurses and who are licensed medical practitioners committed human rights violation against Jun.
First, under Republic Act of the Philippines No. 8504, compulsory HIV testing is unlawful. It should only be done voluntarily by a patient. The doctors and nurses also violated that code of confidentiality that is supposed to protect Jun (or any patient) from discrimination and prejudice because of his delicate condition that many people may misinterpret, wrongly judged because of lack of understanding and awareness. Under RA 8504, people with HIV still has a right to continue doing their work as long as they’re capable and taking medications and counseling.
Second, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Jun has the right to live his life with dignity and respect, despite his condition. And he didn’t receive any of that from his peers who were supposed to be professionals, who were supposed to care for him.
Third, instead of showing compassion and understanding, his own parents tormented him and almost killed him. His family was his last foundation with whom he could ask for help. But they turned him away.
When I asked our lecturer what happened to Jun after that sad incident, and where he is now, the lecturer just answered me with an honest-to-goodness, “I don’t know.” One of the participants in the seminar, an investigator, who was joking and taking every topic discussed with candidness and humor, told the lecturer that Jun committed suicide because she met the father of Jun!
But because a few of the participants were laughing or giggling by her quick candid reply because she was like that all throughout the seminar—and I don’t know if it was a joke or if she was already saying something serious—I was disappointed that the lecturer, a lawyer, didn’t take the time to share with us the end of Jun story. When I shared a glimpse of Jun’s story with my brother back home, he was sure to say that Jun may have killed himself after his family rejected him. Because according to my brother, Jun’s family was his last hope.