Angelo James F. Esperanzate, RN (he/him)
Consultant and MA Candidate
Years as an ANAC member: 1
DEI committee member
What does Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day mean to you?
Being in a third-world country, especially one that was colonized by America, I bring a lot of historical and cultural input on how HIV and AIDS impact a Southeast Asian country like the Philippines, where I live. As a brown-skinned gay man, there are discussions on understanding key populations and how they are affected by the stigma and discrimination of the HIV epidemic that I seek to further explore and unpack, like decolonizing "queer" and our sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) diversity that has existed even before the term queer existed. Through my lived experience and participation in advocacy work, I can say that this celebration is an opportunity to showcase our side of the story of HIV and AIDS, beyond the usually highlighted first-world perspective.
Why did you join the fight to end HIV/AIDS?
It was really only by chance that I got into HIV advocacy. After doing hospital work, I went directly into my passion: development work. After a year or so, that's when a family friend showed me a call for an application. It was for a project associate for an HIV program with AIDS Society of the Philippines. From there, I was taken on quite a journey that opened my eyes to the epidemic gravely affecting my community. From then on, during my mid-twenties, I was able to say that I had already found what I wanted to do in life. I found what drives me.
What does ANAC mean to you?
Initially, I was just invited by my friend to apply for membership. It looked interesting to expand my network, but for now I see it as an opportunity to affect change, especially by spotlighting the issues of HIV in my country and its close parallel with the US. We have much to learn from each other, and I want my membership in the organization to be that bridge.
What words of wisdom might you pass on to those entering the field?
Your humanity is your strongest weapon. It is both your shield and your sword. Compassion will always be the go-to that can ensure that as you face every challenge this advocacy work puts in your way, and there will be plenty, you will never run out of passion for those you are tasked to care for.