When Catriona Gray landed in the top 5 and bagged the Beauty with a Purpose award in Miss World 2016, she was recognized for her passionate work in Paraiso Bright Beginnings Project. Since then she has gone on to not only win the Miss Universe-Philippines crown to represent the country later in December, but has also added the HIV advocacy as one of her top passion projects.
When a friend of mine passed away from AIDS-related complications. It really caught me off guard because he never told anyone about it. There was this ‘hush’ over his condition and he suffered in silence. That’s really what drove me to do something to be able to help others not reach the same fate.Catriona Gray, Miss Universe-Philippines
In July 2017, Catriona expanded her advocacy work when she supported internal events in LoveYourself and sharing her knowledge and experience to continually inspire volunteers. The HIV advocacy has been close to her heart ever since her friend passed away from AIDS-related complications. She wanted to move forward and make a change the public’s perception of HIV.
I’m honoured to lend my voice to the cause (literally) but I hope that in my participation, all of those around me my circle of friends and family and those who follow me – can become aware too. I’m a part of the ripple effect and that makes me feel empowered and proud.
Catriona joined in celebrating World AIDS Day at the Love Gala on December 1, 2017. As one of the co-hosts for the event, she was honored to participate in Asia’s Premier Charity and Awards Gala and bore witness to the first Ripple Awards.
By removing the stigma, we can fight HIV & AIDS and not the people suffering from it. No one should die because of collective ignorance. We are capable of change, or learning and educating. We are all human and we all love.
On March 2018, Catriona continued to support LoveYourself’s projects towards empowering self-love. At the photoshoot campaign Fit To Love, she emphasized that everyone has the innate ability to show and receive love no matter one’s HIV status. During the Philippines’ first community-led multi-site HIV testing day in May 2018, Catriona surprised volunteers as she joined the registration committee in welcoming participants.
It took losing a good friend of mine at the age of 26. It just didn’t seem fair that at that age, you haven’t even been given the chance to go about your life, to pursue your dream, to pursue your career that your life is just snatched away from you by something that could have been prevented.
This August 9, 2018, Taguig City in partnership with UNAIDS, LoveYourself, and The Red Whistle signed the Paris Declaration to Fast-Track Cities: Ending the AIDS Epidemic. Catriona together with actor JC Santos bared witness to the event and is in full support of achieving the 90-90-90 vision. The project aims that by 2020, 90% of Filipinos in Taguig City will know their HIV status, 90% of those who test reactive enroll into antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of those in treatment achieve a suppressed viral load.
When one takes the opportunity to pursue their passions, it’s amazing what one can really do. Would you follow suit? Click here to sign up as one of LoveYourelf’s stronghold of volunteers.
Text by Carlos Diego A. Rozul
Photos courtesy of Carlos Diego A. Rozul & Catrional Gray