Leveraging her popularity and massive social media following to draw attention to her advocacies, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach is continuing her efforts to raise HIV awareness as Goodwill Ambassador for the regional branch of UNAIDS — proving that her strengths go beyond beauty.

When did your work on promoting HIV/AIDS awareness begin?

It started in the U.S. with the Miss Universe Organization after I won the title. But due to American health privacy laws, I couldn’t document and share my visits and meetings with people living with HIV. This led to some commenters accusing me of not fulfilling my advocacy duties, but the truth was that I went through rigorous training to speak about the topic.

How has it been like continuing your work here in the Philippines?

It’s a very different approach. Here, awareness is still low and HIV-positive people are still widely stigmatized. I have completed a series of short informational videos for public schools and companies. The number of recorded cases are spiking and it’s pretty bad, but at least we know how many people are affected. More people are also getting tested.

Do pageants still have a place in society and the future?

Yes. I believe I won the Miss Universe title on the strength of my determination and not just by looks alone. I just kept trying until I succeeded. So I take it as a sign that pageants are keeping up with the times. Now the judges like to corner you with really tough political questions. It gets the girls thinking, and it also gets the audience back home thinking.


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