Jericho Paterno on Migration and HIV & AIDS

(Story excerpt from Mr. Paterno’s Speech, former Filipino migrant worker & a person living with HIV at the 24th UNAIDS PCB Meeting)

It was my birthday when they put me in an isolation area and I stayed there for 3 weeks. No one provided me with any counseling. I did not understand what could be wrong. I wasn’t sick. I look healthy and I know I still have the capacity to work. When the company learns of my HIV status, they did not give me the 2-month salary that they owe me. I was informed that I will be deported back to my country immediately.” – Jericho Paterno, former Filipino migrant worker

Jericho Paterno, member of the Pinoy Plus Association based in the Philippines, is one of the speakers who represented the civil society during the thematic segment. He spoke about his experiences as a former Filipino migrant worker who was deported to his country from the Middle East after being found HIV positive. Mr. Paterno is one among the many people across the globe who had face the traumatic experience of HIV-related travel restriction.

With his dream of having a better life – to support himself and his family, Jericho sought help from his friend who is working abroad to look for a job in a foreign land. He landed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2005 under a tourist visa and was able to get a job in a restaurant.

Few months after, Jericho was required by his company to change his visa status from a tourist to an employment visa. He was required to take medical examinations, which without his knowledge, he was tested for HIV. The day after his medical exam, the Dubai Municipality called and ordered him to be isolated indicating that he has problem with his blood. He was told that he is HIV positive but was not given counseling and was put in isolation. He was sent back to the Philippines with only some t-shirts and a small bag with him.

Jericho emphasized the challenges that many HIV-positive returning migrants face as they return or deported back to their country. To quote, he said:

One of the worst impact of being HIV positive that I can no longer work abroad. Many migrants workers like me who are diagnosed with HIV are left without any source of steady income. In the Philippines, jobs are hard to find. I went back home carrying only t-shirts and small bag thinking of what will happen to my future knowing that I cannot go back abroad because of my HIV status.”

It took 2 years before Jericho finally accepted his situation as a person living with HIV. At first, he experienced being hospitalized due to pneumonia and tuberculosis and had almost gave up on his life. According to him, the support from his family and the organization/group that he had met during his confinement in the hospital has helped him to recover. In 2007, he engaged himself in advocacy works with Pinoy Plus Association, an organization of Filipinos living with HIV and AIDS in the Philippines.

Jericho extended his thanks to the UNAIDS for the opportunity that was given to him to share his story and called for the member states and civil society who attended the 24th PCB Meeting to work hand in hand to further strengthen actions to eliminate HIV-related restriction on entry, stay and residence and to make sure that no one has ever to go through what he had experienced.

To listen/watch to Jericho Paterno’s speech, click here!

Report Written by:
Igor G. Mocorro, RN, MPH (c)
HIV & AIDS Advocate – Philippines

4 Responses to “Jericho Paterno on Migration and HIV & AIDS”

  1. 1 Milinda July 12, 2009 at 14:59

    Igor, Thank you very much for sharing some stories came out during the PCB meeting specially from the language we can understand. What kind of commitments were given and who is fallowing up?

  2. 2 migs February 28, 2011 at 11:18

    i have a same story, i used to worked in singapore, and now im back here in philippines just this january 2011, i had a HIV test for my working visa but it turns out to be a bad news. im still in my closet, afraid and i dont know whom i to talk too.
    loosing hope, thinking about the future. which i admit that it causes me a depressions… but im still trying to be fine, as no body knows that im having this burden specially my family, i just really cant share it with them, and i have to act and pretend that im ok.

    i had sent an email to UNAIDS Philippines and they referred me to PINOY_PLUS@YAHOO.COM, but i still haven’t got any response from them. i have there contact numbers, but im just so afraid or shy… mix emotions to call them. 😦

    as im continuing searching here on internet, i have found this blog, hope someone can help.

  3. 3 louie April 14, 2011 at 17:53

    you are very strong, that you accept the reality,how i wish i could be as strong as you are that until now, I’m in denial stage, I need a counseling… can i get the contact name? and the address where i can visit? please help me…


  1. 1 2010 in review « Together We are the Solution Trackback on January 2, 2011 at 18:52

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