Baguio community conducts international aids candlelight ceremony
Despite inclement weather last Tuesday; city officials, health care workers, Baguio Association of Night Spots (BANS) members, representatives from the local churches and advocates convened and lighted candles for loved ones lost to HIV-AIDS at the city hall multi-purpose hall, Tuesday afternoon.
Anchored on the theme, “Spread Love and Solidarity, Not Stigma and Fear,” Mayor Benjamin Magalong spoke about discrimination and the importance of restoring one’s dignity. The candle light activity is about reflection, renewal of commitment and resilience to fight back, and determination to end the stigma attached to HIV-AIDS, he said.
In her message, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda quoted Department of Health (DOH) data on HIV/AIDS deaths among Filipinos which increased 21% higher than in 2022. Statistics also show that Filipinos are afflicted at a faster rate, the lady councilor mentioned.
Health Services Office (HSO) Acting head Dr. Celia Flor Brillantes acknowledged health workers’ dedication and commitment in the fight against HIV AIDS. She also issued a challenge on ending the stigma and provision of emotional support, health care and mental health services for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV-AIDS).
Advances in science and research, Dr. Brillantes said, brings hope to PLHIV AIDS as retro-viral medicines issued to PLHIV AIDS are observed to be effective. PLHIV AIDS undergoing treatment at the HSO have low viral load, she added.
Councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales is batting for the implementation of a community-wide Information and Education Campaign (IEC). He has sponsored the ordinance on HIV/AIDS now being looked over as to improvement, needed details and alignment with other legislative measures.
For spiritual refreshment, prayers were offered by religious representatives from the Diocese of Baguio, United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), Cathedral of the Resurrection and Metropolitan Church.
The candle light ceremony is a reminder of lives lost to HIV/AIDS and hope for PLHIV/AIDS patients. They need to be valued, accepted, included; with a right to avail of treatment, healthcare and an improved quality of life, all those present collectively said.
Free HIV/AIDS testing was simultaneously done at the multi-purpose hall.
Persons with Disability Office personnel headed by Samuel Aquino were also present during the ceremonies.
As part of the ceremonies, workers from the following establishments were given certificates of appreciation; Klex, Double O, Double I, PJ’s bar, D honeymoon and Maremar Massage.
Said individuals have attained clear health certificates and adhered to health protocols. They are allowed free tests and medical checks from June to December as long as they maintain clear results, Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) nurse Gay Hope Alangsab revealed. – JGFianza