Medical practitioners, health workers and advocates for awareness and the care of persons with HIV-AIDS gathered Friday at the Manuel L. Quezon Park to join the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day to reflect on the pandemic, commemorate those who have died of the disease and honor those who care for them.
City Health Officer Dr. Maria Sarah B. Talla said that the lighted candles will help the participants to remember the loved ones or friends whose lives were cut short by AIDS, honor those who devoted time to care for people living with HIV, those who continue to fight stigma and discrimination and those who help create a conducive environment whereby people living with HIV can live in dignity and make positive contribution towards society.
Dr. Talla also commended Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, Chairperson of the City HIV/AIDS Council, for providing funding to maintain the City HIV/AIDS Treatment hub, Social Hygiene Clinic and to train volunteers who could help in the Prevention and Control of the disease.
It is the objective of the City HIV/AIDS Council to engage people, government agencies and civil-society groups so they could contribute to break all barriers of stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and give hope to the new generation so that they will live in a world free from HIV.
As of February 2022, total reported cases of 96, 626 Filipinos are living with HIV since January 1984 and the number of diagnosed HIV cases have been increasing from 1 per day in 2008 to 33 per day in 2022.
HIV, AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) reported there were 1, 054 newly diagnosed HIV cases and 50% (528) of these belonged to 25-34 years-old age range and 30% (311) belonged to the 15-24 years-old age gap at the time of testing.
The theme of the 2022 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day “Keeping the light, honoring our rights, radiating pride” serves as a platform for unity of various groups to raise awareness on the different HIV programs in the City and civil society organizations geared towards the commitment to the advocacy of eliminating HIV-AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.