After living through the struggles attached to being HIV-positive, Ronaldo “Selfmade Ronaldo” Castillo has made it his life’s mission to end discrimination against people living with HIV and Aids. Using social media, Castillo fervently debunks common myths about HIV and Aids, aiming to stop the spread of misinformation which he believes is at the root of the discrimination they endure. His combined following of over 25,000 people on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram gives him a powerful platform to share his story and reduce stigma.
In an interview with Sunday Newsday, Castillo confessed, “I know that for somebody living with HIV and Aids, it is not easy to do what I am doing. A lot of people would be like, how I got the courage to do this. But in reality, it took years of me building that courage.”
His determination to make a difference was shaped during his early years when he was acquainted with his HIV-positive status at just 11 years old. Growing up in a home for children living with HIV, Castillo vividly remembers the challenges he faced, especially the lack of understanding and discrimination when he ventured outside the sanctuary of the home.
Recalling an incident with a friend who stopped their medication due to discrimination, Castillo revealed, “This guy ended up getting Aids and nearly died…We had a talk months after…I got to understand that it was the discrimination. He wasn’t the only person going through that problem, it was a good few of them.”
Despite facing obstacles, Castillo remained resolute in his mission to combat the negativity surrounding HIV and Aids. In his own words, “Somebody had to make a change and if it took me to do that, I would be the one. And I decided to take that stand from ever since.”
Castillo’s journey to make a difference took a personal turn when he decided to disclose his HIV-positive status on social media. The overwhelming response, both positive and negative, posed new challenges, but Castillo was determined to keep educating and inspiring his followers. He remains undeterred in his commitment to combat misinformation and end the discrimination faced by those living with HIV and Aids.