ABS CBN’s TV Patrol aired a report last January 27, 2010. The televised report highlighted that there is a concerning growth on the number of HIV cases and that most of the people coming out as positive comes from the call center industry. I wasn’t able to see the news first hand since I was busy documenting an orientation on Rapid Access to Vulnerability on HIV in Davao City. This news came to me through a text message from a good friend who I used to work with in a call center in Manila.
As an advocate against HIV/ AIDS, I was shocked how irresponsible the above mentioned news network released the report. I learned later on the real story of the interview because I was able to speak with the doctor that was interviewed. She mentioned that the HIV cases are growing and that the age of those getting infected is becoming younger. She also admitted that she mentioned that some of the people tested positive for HIV are yuppies. Then the reported insulated something like…yuppies, like people from the call center? Talk about putting words in one’s mouth. The network edited and aired the interview and made it sound like the call center industry has a big contribution on the growing number of HIV cases – which is not the case!
I knew that statement would cause havoc and stir people to react. And it did. I received a lot of text messages from my ex-call center team mates. I heard reactions from the participants of the activity I am covering and people from different HIV/ AIDS NGO and support group.
I received a phone call from a friend asking if I am willing to be interviewed regarding the initial report the news network aired. I said yes. I was given the Zen Hernandez’s (reporter) mobile number and I contacted her. She said they are making a case study on people living with HIV, as to how they are coping up with their status and what are the supports they need. But I was under the impression that they are making an new report to neutralize the impression they made on HIV vs. the call center industry.
Morning of January 29, 2010. I just arrived from my Davao trip the evening before and haven’t had enough sleep, I met with the reporter and was interviewed. The interview was long and substantial. I was asked personal questions. I made sure to highlight the fact that the growing number of HIV cases has no direct relationship to the call center industry.
People don’t get infected with HIV because they work in call centers. Neither they get it because they work nights nor because they have frequent access to internet (net service used for business in call centers). People get infected with HIV because they are careless, irresponsible and ignorant.
Police, Doctors, hotel employees, convenient store staff, and others… even reporters and people in the mass media business work nights so it is unfair for the call center industry to be tagged as a big contributor on the growth of the “numbers”.
I can talk about the experiences I have with ignorant, prejudice and discriminatory people. About how many loving people work to help others. Or I can just start discussing HIV 101. But that’s not what I want to do right now. What I want is for everyone to stop and contemplate. What if you’re the one who’s infected with the “H” virus? How do you want to be treated? How do you want to be perceived? Let me know so I would know if your needs and wants are different from mine… but I am supposing we all have the same wishes.
I wish for many things but hope for one thing… that I would be able to help make this world a safe, healthy and better place to live in… for all of us.