HIV positive man on aids education mission
by: Leland Kim
HONOLULU (KHNL) – 25 million people around the world have died of AIDS in the past 25 years. Almost 40 million people are living with HIV. About a million are Americans, and 3,000 are here in Hawaii.
To mark World AIDS Day, organizers held a health fair in Tamarind Park. More than a dozen health and nonprofit groups have settled there. The goal of World AIDS Day is to raise awareness, while addressing the negative stigma of HIV and AIDS. The event began in 1988.
And for a man, World AIDS Day has personal significance. He is HIV positive and his mission is to educate others.
Rommel Marcelino is a healthy 41 year old man with a loving girlfriend. He is also HIV positive.
“I was like then, I’m either going to let it get to me or make the most of it,” Marcelino said.
He found out when he was only 19 when he got engaged.
“I was afraid of dying right away, like all my friends did,” he said. “I mean they did, literally within five years of my diagnosis.”
The hardest part was telling your family.
“My older sister who, we’re like very close, she cried. But everyone was more like, they were listening,” he said.
They listened to him and supported him. Rommel has remained healthy all these years. He takes five tablets in the morning and four in the evening. His mission now is to educate others.
“There is still a lack of communication going on,” he said. “People are still afraid to talk about it. You have nothing to lose by talking about it. You have everything to gain.”
With 2007 fast approaching, Rommel thinks a lot.
“Every new year that comes, I think, you know. I always say to myself, is this the year? ” he said.
He hopes the message of safe sex will reach everyone in Hawaii.
“If you are going to have sex, always use a condom,” he said. “It only takes once. “
A man on a mission to save others.