It was a regular night. My friends and I were catching up via an online call to share with each other support to ease up our respective anxieties. COVID-19 pandemic threatened not only everyone’s physical health, but also psychological wellbeing. It is more difficult for people living with HIV to look for sources of income considering that many of us may not have regular jobs.
From stories of restlessness to stories of hope, a spark brought light to the idea of IN+PRO.
IN+PRO is created from the stories of persons living with HIV who intends to become productive members of society as professionals by strengthening their contributions through their chosen career. IN+PRO is created for professionals living with HIV who intend to develop their competence, and establish their professional expertise. Most especially, IN+PRO is created to inspire that all is not lost.
When diagnosed with HIV, people are likely to leave their jobs for various reasons or lost their jobs because of their diagnosis. In learning their HIV positive status, PLHIV face the tasks of internalizing new identities and coping with self-stigma, stigma and discrimination simultaneously. Leaving or losing jobs can lead to loss of vocational identity and purpose in life that can be critical to planning for a positive future. (Hunt B, Jaques J, Niles S, Wierzalis E. (2003). Career concerns for people living with HIV/AIDS.)
I am a person living with HIV.
HIV, at the time of my diagnosis, is more of a moral issue than a health issue. A deep feeling of disgust towards myself enveloped me. Stigma from society added to the already unbearable guilt. It changed my perspectives and altered how I see myself. The first few years of living with HIV was a wrestle for self-worth.
I am very fortunate that I am surrounded by selfless parents, emphatic brother and sister, and supportive friends. Because of the accepting environment, I learned that I am no less than a human being. Through them, I found again my potential and capacity.
I created IN+PRO so there is a platform dedicated for PLHIVs to develop their professional skills and capabilities which corresponds to their chosen career. I created IN+PRO as a platform to provide opportunity for PLHIVs in establishing their professional portfolio or portfolio of expertise.
I created IN+PRO so that PLHIVs themselves can promote inclusivity in the workplace towards PLHIV, lead curating innovative ideas and implement projects or activities that responds to the needs of marginalized community.
Through IN+PRO, we can inspire other PLHIVs, especially the newly diagnosed that living with HIV does not restrict their professional advancement.