The president of the world’s largest seafarers’ union called on ‘all’ concerned in the maritime industry and seafaring sector to accord fair and equal treatment to seafarers who have been found to be positive of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and must be given the feeling of ‘normal’ life in work place and at home. ‘Do not discriminate (against) them!,” he appealed.
Dr. Conrado F. Oca, president and chairman of Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), made the call to discard the predator-like stigma of fear, shame and discrimination on seafarers attacked by HIV, that include Filipino seamen.
In a statement, Dr. Oca, a doctor of medicine, said “let us treat fairly, give chance and equal opportunity to our seafarers who are HIV positive, for them and to live productive with healthy life,” and “just like every one else not attacked by the virus”. “I call on all concerned that we join hands and collectively move to address this issue,” he said, noting an ‘increasing percentage’ of those diagnosed with HIV come the maritime industry.
The AMOSUP led by Oca has joined stakeholders in according wholehearted support to the newly launched Positibong Marino Phils, Inc. (PMPI)-an organization duly committed to help seafarers facing the challenges of being HIV-positive. He cited the initiatives of International Transports Workers’ Federation (ITF) and Joint Manning Group (JMG) in collaborating with AMOSUP to accord all-out support to PMPI, for which PMPI headed by its chairman deck officer (3rd mate), HIV-positive Jebson Rederri Go Gamida, is grateful. The AMOSUP, ITF and JMG hailed the courage and strong heart of Gamida in coming out in the open in launching recently the advocacy-the first network of HIV-seafarers in the world.
The DOH has confirmed that the rise of HIV infection in the Philippines magnifies the vulnerability of seafarers to this ailment with big factors from ship environment on board that call on different ports, placing Filipino seafarers at risk to many health hazards, that include HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI).If not treated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immuno-deficien cy syndrome).
In appealing to the maritime industry and seafaring sector, Dr. Oca said, “We must think positive. We must have an optimistic state of mind, and see the bright side of life, headed for harmony, happiness, improvement of relations and success in life.” “AMOSUP has always been a champion of fair and equal opportunity for our seafarers farers, and such spirit has always been at the core of our existence as a union.”