NAGA CITY, May 20 (PIA) --- "In our fight against HIV/AIDS, we are not against people infected with the virus, but we are against the virus.”
This was how Dra. Meden Cortero, Bicol Medical Center (BMC) HIV Coordinator encapsulized her message during the commemoration of the 33rd AIDS Candlelight Memorial Ceremony held here, Sunday.
She said that the memorial was not only meant to remember those who had died from HIV/AIDS but also a campaign to stop the spread of the dreaded virus.
She noted that despite efforts to stop spread of HIV/AIDS for the past 33 years, the number of AIDS victims remains on the up trend, especially among the youth.
The commemoration activity, which served as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV/AIDS, was spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH), in cooperation with BMC, Naga City Health Office and Camarines Sur Provincial Health Office.
Naga City Councilor Councilor Ceclia “Nene” De Asis, representing Mayor John Bongat, stated the city’s strong support to eradicate cases of HIV/AIDS in the country, particularly in the city.
De Asis bared that the city government here has reactivated the AIDS Council to meet the needs of the people living with HIV/AIDS, giving them access to treatment, care and support.
The lady councilor is currently crafting an ordinance to increase the budget of the AIDS Council and utilize it in expanding their services to include educational campaign, public information and dissemination, and monitoring.
After the program, De Asis led the lighting of the candles with the participants each taking turns to light their candle around the logo. After which, the participants signed their names as a Pledge of Commitment to support the future towards a unified and sustainable AIDS response by participating in advocacy activities to fight HIV/AIDS, and be an instrument in raising awareness to its prevention and uphold the human rights of people living with HIV.
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. Started in 1983, it takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries.
With over a million people living with HIV today, the AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as an important intervention in global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination and giving hope to new generations.
Other partakers during the candle-lighting event were representatives from the 27 barangays of the City, personnel and city officials, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), personnel from the different hospitals in Naga, different AIDS Council, academic institutions and members of youth organizations. (MAL/LSM-PIA5/CamSur)