The body is said to be the temple of the human soul. If this is true, then the body is a space where memories reside. It is a truth universally accepted that a person’s existence is not separate from the people that surround him/her for people bank on important and memorable experiences, be it painful or sweet. And whenever a conflict or struggle arises, the body transforms itself into a space of emotion, love, relationships, family, personal problems, realities, and many more. The culture of fear becomes a way to silence a person. It is time that writers, advocates, and People Living with HIV break this culture of fear.

In the case of HIV and AIDS epidemic in the Philippines, it is time to break the scare. There are condescending metaphors and clichés that are always attributed to a Filipino living with HIV and AIDS. There are many statistics.* There are many studies. Yet, where are the stories behind these numbers? Where are the stories that were silenced by the dominant clichés and metaphors of fear among those who were affected by the virus of our nation?

It is time to break the fear and silence. It is time to spread understanding and actively engage in the lives of People living with HIV. Writing becomes a space to heal the opened scars of the past. I urge you my comrades in the battle against HIV to open your notebooks, get a paper, prepare your pens or pencils, open a Word file, and start writing the stories of your life.

POZZIE PINOY: Essays and Stories About HIV-AIDS, an anthology project on personal narratives in a master’s class on Malikhaing Pagsulat 230 (editing/publishing) of the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, University of the Philippines-Diliman, is calling for submissions to those who would like to share their personal narratives or experiences with HIV-AIDS through writing.

If interested, here are the mechanics for submission:

1) Contributors may submit a personal essay/narrative, thought or opinion piece, short story, flash fiction/flash narrative, or photo with a caption about experiences with a or as a person living with HIV or AIDS. The anthology is open to all themes. You may share stories about the experiences from the point of view of a family, friend, lover, confidant, co-worker, advocate, classmate, health worker, and many more. 
2) All submissions will undergo a blind review. 
3) FORMAT: All submissions must be typewritten or submitted as a Word file (.doc or .docx), in font size 12 points, and may be in the following font styles: Times New Roman, Arial, Book Antiqua, Segoe UI, or Georgia. It must be double-spaced in 8.5 inches x 11 inches or letter-sized (short) bond paper with 1 inch margin on all sides. Place a page number at the bottome of the page. If the submission is a photo, include a caption saved as a Notepad (.txt) file. 
4) For personal essay and thought or opinion piece, the entry must be written from 500 to 2000 words. 
5) For short story, the entry must be from 10 to 15 pages only.
6) For flash fiction/flash narrative, the entry must be in 100 to 500 words or within 3 pages only. 
7) For photographs, it must follow the anthology’s theme ‘Pozzie Pinoy.’ Contributors may submit up to 5 photos only. It must be in JPEG or TIFF format with 1,600 pixels wide (for horizontal image) or 1,600 pixels tall (for vertical image). Include a caption which does not exceed 20 words. Save the caption in Notepad (.txt) format. Photos which won in competitions must be included with the caption. Entries may be in colored o black and white.
8) The anthology is open to writing in all languages of the Philippines. (REMINDER: If the entry is written in the language of the region, please include an English or Filipino translation.)
9) For confidentiality, you may change or hide your name. It is at your own volition.
10) Submit the file with a short BIONOTE which doesn’t exceed 100 words. 
11) Submit the contributions at pozziepinoyliterary@gmail.com with the subject format: 
ENTRY: <GENRE>_ <TITLE>_<NAME OF WRITER> 
(E.g. ENTRY: Personal Essay_Pozzie Pinoy_JUAN DE LA CRUZ)
12) For photos:
<NAME>_<entry number> of <total number of submissions>.<file format>
(E.g. Juan De La Cruz 1 of 2.jpg)
13) Deadline of submission: April 8, 2016 (Friday) until 12 midnight. All writers included in the anthology will have a complimentary copy.

*Background

According to Department of Health (DOH) this 2015, there are 21 reported cases of HIV infection every day in the Philippines. Many of the cases in the Philippines are related to unprotected sex and sharing of used needles.

Statistics show more younger people are tested positive for HIV. “Those infected are young with a median age of 27. HIV infection among 15-24 years old increased more-than ten-fold, from 44 in 2006 to 995 in 2015. The period of initiation to sex and drug use among key affected populations is as early as from 14 years old” (www.unaids.org). According to DOH, “Since 1984, 974 or three percent of the total HIV cases recorded were young adolescents or below 19 years of age… Of this number, eight percent or 80 were children” (http://www.philstar.com/).

DOH admits that “correct and comprehensive knowledge on HIV prevention and transmission” is low among target populations. In record, only 40% of “males and transgenders having sex with males (MTSM), female sex workers, at people who inject drugs (PWID)” have comprehensive knowledge of the disease.