More than the prestige of bringing home the Miss Universe crown, Pia Wurtzbach wishes to be an advocate for the continued search of relief and ultimately, a cure, for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome a.k.a. HIV/AIDS.
Looking back at the queen's answer in the pageant's final question-and-answer portion ("Why should you be the next Miss Universe?") she said she'll use her "voice to influence the youth and I would raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country, which is the Philippines."
Truly, it's timely and relevant. On Tuesday, January 5, American website The Atlantic reported that the number of HIV cases in Cebu City has climbed sharply, with the the primary means of transmission being drug-related needle-sharing.
Aside from sex, sharing needles and syringes contaminated with blood infected with HIV is the most effective way of transmitting the virus.
"So why do they share?" you probably ask. Because the "slightly used syringes" are free and a new one costs P20 which can be a big amount of money for those with the unfortunate addiction.
What's more depressing about the case is that it's affecting innocent people.
Since the start of the year, Cebu's Vicente Sotto Hospital, a treatment hub that offers HIV testing, has seen 10 pregnant women test positive for HIV. Many of them got the virus from their sexual partners who were, you guessed it, infected by needle-sharing.
Some public health officials are calling for aggressive needle-exchange programs. However, one of the authorities slammed the proposed solution.
Alice Utlang, executive director of the Cebu City Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, told the folks over The Atlantic that: "The answer to this problem is not distributing clean needles. The answer is rehabilitation."
But she admitted that rehabilitation isn't enough to put an end to this growing problem. There are only two public-drug rehabilitation centers in the city, and these are already jam-packed.
Going back to Pia, the 26-year-old Miss Universe winner from Cagayan de Oro admitted during an interview with Don Lemon at CNN that she's not an expert about HIV, but she’s educating herself about it.
"It's a growing epidemic and it's growing because of unprotected sexual contact and rampant drug use," explained Pia. "I'm learning more about it now on an international level now that I'm Miss Universe. I'm not expert, but as I'm going along with it, I'm learning and that's why I'm an advocate for it."
No pressure, Pia. But we here at FHM, along with the rest of the nation, hope that you can really help stymie this epidemic.
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