How can people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or “poz” move forward and live normal, productive lives amidst the burden of stigma and isolation? What can families and friends do for a loved one who has HIV?
To shed light on HIV and give hope to HIV-positive people and their loved ones, streaming service iWant launches its original advocacy series “Mga Batang Poz,” about the journey of four HIV-positive teenagers, that starts streaming for free on Friday (July 26) on the iWant app and iwant.ph.
Based on the best-selling young adult novel by Palanca-winning author Segundo Matias Jr., “Mga Batang Poz” stars Mark Nuemann, Fino Herrera, Paolo Gumabao, and Awra Briguela. The six-episode series is helmed by the critically acclaimed writer-director Chris Martinez.
The series will take viewers to what HIV-positive people from different backgrounds face every day: questioning what it means to live after knowing their diagnosis, managing their disease via antiretroviral medications, and braving judgment from families, friends, and society.
Mark plays Gab, a 16-year-old bisexual who gets entangled in a passionate love affair with his long-term girlfriend and guy best friend, while Fino portrays Luis, a 15-year-old Filipino-Chinese teenager who explores his sexuality, loses his virginity to an older guy, and eventually gets addicted to unprotected sex.
Awra brings to life Chuchay, 15, an optimistic boy who grew up in a poor household and resorts to using sex for money. Paolo, meanwhile, depicts 16-year-old Enzo, a Wattpad writer neglected by his parents and sacrifices his health for a man who promises him love and commitment.
After finding each other in a social media support group for “poz’s” using their online alter egos, Gab, Luis, Enzo, and Chuchay decide to meet at a coffee shop. From there, they form a bond and start a road trip together to search for hope, overcome their despair and uncertainties, and accept their present situation in order to move forward and fulfill their dreams.
Aside from the series, iWant also continues the conversation on its advocacy and what still needs to be done in an exclusive special called “Poz Talk” with Karen Davila, the four lead stars, the author of the novel, and HIV-positive people who will bravely share their stories. It will also come out on Friday (July 26) on iWant.
The Philippines has the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Department of Health (DOH). Majority of these infections are also reported to be among young people aged 15 to 24, said the Philippine National AIDS Council in 2018. This year, DOH reported that 38 new HIV cases are reported daily, up from last year’s 32.
“Mga Batang Poz” is adapted into series by writer Jerry Gracio and is produced by Unitel, StraightShooters, Inc., and Dreamscape Digital. It also stars Yayo Aguila, Bobby Andrews, Joem Bascon, Gardo Versoza, Rita Avila, Mark Rivera, Benedict Campos, Raven Molina, Chesca Inigo, Patty Mendoza, Soliman Cruz, Tarek El Tayech, Dolly De Leon, Marina Benipayo, Chienna Filomeno, Ricardo Cepeda, Andrew Gan, Arnold Reyes, Angeli Agbayani, and Irma Adlawan.
Meanwhile, the official soundtrack of “Mga Batang Poz” will also be available on Spotify on Friday, featuring the songs “Gusto Kong Lumipad” by Agsunta, “Nothing On” by Kidwolf, “Puro Laro” by Carlo Bautista, “Ano Nga Ba Tayo?” by JMKO, “Sasamahan Kita” by Loisa Andalio, “Gitna” by Davey Langit.
Stream all the 6 episodes of “Mga Batang Poz” and “Poz Talk” starting Friday (July 26) on the iWant app (iOS and Android).