Kris Uy or fondly called by his members Sir JC is a founder of a Regional Advocacy and Support Group for People Living with HIV and AIDS in a region who was once survived the strongest typhoon that ever hit land, Super Typhoon Haiyan. Based in Tacloban City, a highly urbanized city settling across the beautiful San Pedro Bay, the group called 8HAVEN or Helping Advance the Vulnerable Through Empowerment Network that Kris, together with eight (8) individuals founded on July of 2016 started to create riffle of hope in the a city that is now considered one of the 70 Highly Burden Areas in the country’s worsening HIV Epidemic.
A Haiyan survivor himself, Kris experienced the trauma and chaos caused by the disaster and witness how the resiliency of the people help build back a better Tacloban. However, looking at the current realities, it seems that the city is now faced with a greater disaster that could endanger the health and the lives of the MSM and TG community and other key affected population, especially the young people. Just this year from a category C, Tacloban City jumped to Category A in the number of HIV cases in the region with 6 other places in category B.
As a member of the community that carries the burden of this epidemic, he accepted the challenge of educating other members of his community, raising awareness on HIV prevention and became a staunch advocate for greater community participation and support to HIV Prevention and Mitigation and has been in forefront in helping fight stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. He has also organized a small community of people living with HIV and AIDS, the first and only of its kind in the region that provides Care and Support to individuals infected with the virus which as of the latest data has about 480 cases of HIV registered in the region. Leading the group was full of challenges, yet he never give up. In spite of a no financial support from any organization and now formal training of handling such enormous tasks, he never ceases to create opportunities to partner and network with other organizations and institutions and has brought the issue of HIV in the area to a different level.
A trailblazer and a risk taker, he dared to defy all the odds. Aimed of helping save others, he has brought life- saving HIV related services to his peers and other members of the community. For the last 18 months he has been conducting mobile HIV exhibits, delivering Awareness and Advocacy talks across the region and had been a pioneering Community Based HIV Screening Motivator in the region. His passion to serve and save lives inspired many MSM and TG and even other members of the community to get tested and know their status. He relentlessly provided assistance to Reactive Clients to be linked to care and assisted them in whatever little means that he can. With the help of his friends and other supporters, he was able to offer services and referrals that had help infected and affected members of the community. Now, his group 8HAVEN, offers Free and Confidential Community Based HIV Screening, HIV counselling, preventive commodities (condoms and lubes), Capability Building (Awareness and Advocacy talks, Stigma Reduction, Psychosocial Support and temporary shelter for PLHIVs, with a volunteer pastor, psychologist and a social worker. His strong support system with Faith Based Organization in the Channels of Hope Action Team has been a great help in delivering the services to people who needs most.
Kris is also actively represented his region in the Discussion on issues affecting the LGBT and People Living with HIV community in the national level. He is a member of the Network to Stop AIDS Philippines and has been a source of Hope for People Living with HIV and AIDS in the Region. Currently, he is working with the different MSM groups, LGBT groups in his place and other online groups, motivating them to collaborate and to work together in the fight against the spread of HIV, end stigma and discrimination against PLHIV.
“ 3 years after I survived Haiyan, I was fighting again for my life because an infection that was caused by Fear, Shame and Ignorance. I thought it was game over for me, but looking back on that early morning of November 8, 2013, when the most power typhoon struck my city, I was all alone, frighten and scared but I never gave up. I had the something that the strong winds and the storm surge can’t take away from me, the Will to Survive. I hoped and prayed, true enough I survived Haiyan. Now, as I faced another disaster known as HIV, I should never falter. I would continue to keep the Will to Live no matter what circumstances there is because deep inside I know that I have the Power to Be Strong and now I fully embrace the task of becoming a Channel of Hope to others who are hopeless in the fight against HIV, for this is me a HAIYAN SURVIVOR, Now an HIV Warrior”
+ Spotlight: Voluntary Health Service