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To “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement (PSA) was released on the “HIV basics,” according to Disney Aguila, board member of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) and concurrent president of Pinoy Deaf Rainbow (PDR).

The PSA is actually one in three PSAs, all of them forming part of a Bahaghari Center project backed by a collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyed to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) In Asia and the Pacific.

There will also be accompanying trainings for Deaf community members to know about rapid HIV testing, so that “Deaf Filipinos can start HIV testing among themselves.”

Aguila said that often, when discussing SHRH, differently-abled people – such as the members of the Deaf community – are often not included in discussions. “And so even if we’re just as affected by this global social issue, solutions to deal with them often remain hard to reach for us,” she said.

From this perspective, “efforts that empower our community members are good should be done; and they should be done fast.”


In 2012, Michael David C. Tan – publishing editor of Outrage Magazine, the only LGBTQIA publication in the Philippines, and head of Bahaghari Center – conducted “Talk to the Hand”, the first-of-its-kind study that looked at the knowledge, attitudes and related practices of Deaf LGBT Filipinos on HIV and AIDS. The study had numerous disturbing findings.

To start, majority of the respondents (33 or 54.1%) were within the 19-24 age range at the time of the study, followed by those who are over 25 (21 or 34.3%).

Most of them (53 of 61 Deaf respondents) had sex before they reached 18, the legal age of consent in the Philippines. Many (36.1%) of them also had numerous sexual partners, with some respondents having as many as 20 sex partners in a month.

Only 21 (34.4%) use condoms, and – worryingly – even among those who used condoms, 12 (19.7%) had condom breakage during sex because of improper use.

Perhaps the unsafe sexual practice should not be surprising, considering that not even half (29, 47.5%) of the respondents heard of HIV and AIDS, with even less that number (23, 37.7%) knowing someone who died of HIV or AIDS-related complications. And with not even half of the total respondents (29) familiar with HIV and AIDS, not surprisingly, only 19 (31.1%) consider HIV and AIDS as serious, with more of them considering HIV and AIDS as not serious (20, 32.8%) or maybe serious (22, 36.1%).

The study also noted that the level of general knowledge about HIV and AIDS is low, with 40 (65.6%) of them falling in this category. Only about 1/5 of them (12, 19.7%) had high level of knowledge about HIV and AIDS. Even fewer (9, 14.8%) may be classified as having moderate knowledge level.

But this issue is not limited ONLY to the LGBTQIA members of the Deaf community. This issue also affects the SRHR of the Deaf community, as a whole.

For the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Specific to reproductive health, WHO stresses that it “implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safer sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.”

It is nonetheless unfortunate that various studies – including Tan’s – highlight how the Deaf community continues to be left behind because they are not able to access safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation/s of their choice.

For instance, a study carried out by Deafax (EARS Campaign, 2012) revealed “higher than average levels of STIs, pregnancy and inappropriate behavior within the Deaf community.” This study specifically showed that: 35% of Deaf people did not receive any sex education at school; 65% said that sex education was inaccessible; and 36% learned through direct sexual experience.”

Dealing with SRHR vis-à-vis HIV is obviously just as tricky in the Philippines.

From January 1984 to July 2018, sexual contact among men who have sex with men (MSM) was the predominant (84%, 44,929) mode of transmission among males. Just as that moniker suggests, many of these MSM are not necessarily gay/homosexual, but also engage in sex with opposite sex partners.

This is connected to the population of those most vulnerable to risks associated with sexual activity getting younger, including HIV. But while this has been noted in the Hearing population, the Deaf community is largely ignored, with no existing data on HIV prevalence among them.

In fact, also from January 1984 to July 2018, 16,074 (28%) of the reported cases were 15-24 years old; and broken down, 1,813 were infected through male-female sex, 9,031 from male-male sex, and 4,662 from sex with both males and females.

This means that so long as the HIV infection rate among MSM increases, so do the risk for infection among women.

As it is, the number of diagnosed HIV infections among females in the Philippines has already increased. Females diagnosed with HIV from January to July 2018 (362) was almost three times the number of diagnosed cases compared to the same period of 2013 (126). Ninety-three percent (3,426) of all female cases were in the reproductive age group (15-49 years old) at the time of diagnosis.

With the dearth – if not complete absence – of information for the Deaf community in the Philippines about HIV, Deaf Filipinos (irrespective of their SOGIE) continue not to be informed of and have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of birth control; as well as appropriate health care services of sexual, reproductive medicine and implementation of health education program.

To highlight, as the case is in the Philippines: Even with glaring worrying data, there continue to be no specific program to give the Deaf population access to HIV-related efforts in the Philippines.

The law, for instance, mandates that people who get tested should receive counselling; and yet not one HIV counsellor knows of Filipino Sign Language (FSL).

And for Deaf Filipinos who were able to get tested for HIV and tested HIV-positive, accessing medical services is also problematic because of the lack of interpreters, particularly those familiar with HIV and those who can actually provide HIV testing.


The PSA discusses HIV basics – from what HIV is, how one may get infected with it, and misconceptions surrounding HIV.

A second PSA will be subsequently released, tackling HIV testing (particularly rapid HIV test); while a third PSA will discuss what happens after people get tested for HIV in the Philippine context.

Also, “because any PSA can only do so much to actually make people get themselves tested for HIV,” Aguila said, a series of trainings will be given to select members of the Deaf community in Metro Manila/Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. This is to “empower members of the Deaf community to be more proactive in dealing with HIV by allowing the Deaf to help the Deaf.”

These trainings will be provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.


Bahaghari Center, Outrage Mag publish book creatively retelling stories from PH HIV community

Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. and Outrage Magazine released a book, “Red Lives”, that author Michael David C. Tan said contains the “creative retelling of stories from the local HIV community.”



To give face to people infected and affected by HIV, Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. and Outrage Magazine released a book, “Red Lives”, that author Michael David C. Tan said contains the “creative retelling of stories from the local HIV community.”

The Philippines now has 54 new HIV cases per day. In March 2023 alone, 2,078 news HIV cases were reported, a 35% increase to the number for the same period last year. Majority (97%) were male, with most of them belonging to the 15-34 age group (including 48% from the 25-34 age group, and 31% from the 15-24 age group. Notably, 125 of the cases reported in March involved 10-19 year old Filipinos, with 103 of them infected through sexual contact.

“Year-on-year, the number of Filipinos getting infected with HIV has been increasing from ‘only’ 13 per day in 2013 to 41 in 2022 to the 54 new HIV cases we now have per day,” Tan said, “and with younger Filipinos the most affected sector.”

For Tan, it is “important to stress this since HIV still kills… at least in contexts like the Philippines.”

Also in March, 57 deaths were reported due to any cause among people with HIV; since 1984 when DOH started reporting on this, 6,474 deaths were already reported due to any cause among people with HIV in the country. Sadly, only over half (67,194 of 114,008) of the total number of PLHIVs take ARVs; meaning, not everyone has access to life-saving medication.

All these numbers are important, Tan said, as they “show us the worsening HIV situation in the country.” However, “these numbers do not tell the full story because all Filipinos living with HIV, and their loved ones looking after them have stories to tell.”

“Red Lives”, Tan said, hopes to highlight some of these stories.

“Red Lives” has sections on: finding out one’s HIV status; looking after minors with HIV; dying and death; HIV for Deaf LGBTQIA people; transgender-specific HIV-related issues; treatment, care and support; and loving beyond HIV.

“Part of the fight against HIV lies in hearing of, and hopefully understanding of the stories of people,” Tan said.

Tan aded: “We all should ask: Why do people engage in behaviors that put them at risk for HIV infection? What are their experiences when they test HIV-positive? How do people around them react? Aside from their medical condition, what continue to be challenges for PLHIVs? And with their status, what continues to inspire them to do better in life?”

For Tan, “answers to such questions put a face on a social issue, thereby helping us understand why the country’s HIV situation is where it is now; what we can do to better the situation; and… what we can similarly do to better the lives of those infected AND affected by HIV.”

With “Red Lives”, the intention is “to start telling these stories so that, hopefully, they’d not only be heard but eventually be listened to.”

CONTACT 09287854244 or 09162727715, OR EMAIL

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Our Campaigns, Bahaghari Center launch ‘Bahaghari Talks’ starting Dec. 1 to ‘extensively tackle issues of LGBTQIA Filipinos’

Starting December 1, Outrage Magazine will host a must-watch weekly show that eyes to extensively tackle issues of LGBTQIA Filipinos.



Mark the date: December 1, 2021, when Outrage Magazine launches a must-watch weekly show that eyes to extensively tackle issues of LGBTQIA Filipinos.

“We say: ‘Anong petsa na (What year is it already)?’ in the coverage of LGBTQIA stories,” said Michael David dela Cruz Tan, editor in chief of Outrage Magazine. This is because “it may already be 2021, but even now, LGBTQIA issues particularly in the Philippines continue NOT to be extensively covered by mainstream media; instead, our issues are still only surfaced to mark ‘special’ occasions – from June for Pride month, to December 1 for World AIDS Day.”

For Tan, this is “extremely limiting; it fails to provide the LGBTQIA community proper avenues to discuss the various intersectional issues affecting us beyond the ‘palatable’ or otherwise controversial, clickbait topics.”

With “Bahaghari Talks”, “we eye to discuss issues LGBTQIA Filipinos should be aware of” via in-depth talks with those who expertly know about these issues.

Is sex work ALSO an LGBTQIA issue, and should we consider legalizing it? Are HIV efforts in the Philippines neglecting seniors, considering most (if not all) of existing efforts target the under-35 MSM population? Is the local LGBTQIA community discriminating against bisexual Filipinos and intersex community members? Does asexuality exist; or is this a Western “imposition” in the Philippines? These – other timely topics that should interest LGBTQIA Filipinos – will be covered by “Bahaghari Talks”.

Tan will be co-hosting Bahaghari Talks, along with co-hosts Aaron Moises Bonete, Stephen Christian Quilacio, and Albert Tan Magallanes, Jr.

New episodes will be uploaded every Wednesday, 7PM, at the YouTube channel of Outrage Magazine; with an accompanying article uploaded on Outrage Magazine.

“Bahaghari Talks” is the second weekly show of Outrage Magazine. For #KaraniwangLGBTQIA, new episodes are uploaded every Saturday, also at 7PM, to showcase the stories of everyday LGBTQIA Filipinos.

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LGBTQIA people in Binuangan, Misamis Oriental receive SOGIESC 101 training

To inform LGBTQIA community members of a town in northern Mindanao about SOGIESC basics, the local rainbow organization there – named LGBTQIA Community of Binuangan, Misamis Oriental – is hosting a four-part workshop.



To inform LGBTQIA community members of a town in northern Mindanao about SOGIESC basics, the local rainbow organization there – named LGBTQIA Community of Binuangan, Misamis Oriental – is hosting a four-part workshop.

Discrimination of LGBTQIA people continues to be reported in these parts of the Philippines, said Jacob Salvana, founding president of the LGBTQIA Community of Binuangan, Misamis Oriental. Meaning – arguably – this is “one of the most difficult issues (we continue to) face here.”

Based on the reports reaching them, there are LGBTQIA people there who get discriminated based on their gender expression (e.g. some of them are catcalled), while others are deprived of employment opportunities because of their gender identity.

Sadly, Salvana said, “the lack of LGBTQIA empowerment programs are apparent”, meaning “we are left to our own devices to confront hate.”

The SOGIESC workshops are intended to empower the local LGBTQIA community members by localizing still-largely Westernized SOGIESC (and LGBTQIA) concepts, thereby “making them self-assured when discussing this issue,” Salvana said. Hopefully, “they will be empowered to confidently face society (even through a small effort like this).”

Added Stephen Christian Quilacio of Outrage Magazine and Bahaghari Center for SOGIESC Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center), there is acknowledgment that LGBTQIA communities outside metropolitan areas are often neglected in mainstream discourses. “And yet – to be honest – not many activities are being developed to actually include them, thereby empowering them to raise issues very specific to them/their contexts.”

For Quilacio, therefore, “such projects that eye to – to start – inform the LGBTQIA people about basic concepts affecting them; and then inform them what they can do when facing issues thrown at them because of their SOGIESC are truly empowering.”

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