- A person living with HIV named Joross de Vera was holding a sign saying, “Free Hugs. I’m HIV+”
- It was during the Grand Marian Procession when Fr. Alvin Pila offered a hug to De Vera
- According to the priest, “it’s the campaign to break the stigma”
A Facebook post of a person living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) holding a sign saying, “Free Hugs. I’m HIV+” went viral on social media. KAMI learned that during the Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros Manila, Joross de Vera got an unexpected warm hug from Fr. Alvin Pila.
KAMI brings to you this news to raise awareness regarding the rampant cases of HIV in the Philippines.
According to De Vera, he did not expect it to happen since the people were in the procession and they might not be allowed to break the line.
“I was not expecting any of them [to approach me] since it was a procession at baka bawal humiwalay sa kanilang mga grupo,” said De Vera as reported by Rappler.
According to Fr. Pila, it is time to break the stigma.
“Ignore me and my vestment. It’s the campaign to break the stigma,” he stated.
The priest also added that what he did was “Jesus’ way”.
“It’s the Jesus’ way. Namimili ako kung i-cross ko ba siya? Lay hands, kawayan lang? Pero nasa isip ko na kung nandito si Jesus, yayakap 'yun,” Fr. Pila said.
For De Vera, what happened was “a message of acceptance”. He even shared that when Fr. Pila embraced him, the priest whispered, “Jesus loves you and the church loves you.”
According to De Vera, “Break out of the tradition and stand up for what is right and true.”
In a report by Manila Bulletin, the Department of Health-Epidemiology Bureau recorded 993 new cases of HIV in the Philippines as of June 2018. In addition, 77 were reported dead due to HIV last June as well.
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