In order to raise community awareness about Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and decrease its related stigma and discrimination, Department of Social Welfare and Development MIMAROPA Region spearheaded the AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day in Puerto Princesa Palawan.
AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day is a yearly activity commemorated every 3rd week of May in remembrance of the departed AIDS-affected individuals and to give support to People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and their families.
Activity was in partnership with the Local Government Units of Palawan, Department of Health (DOH), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), and Faith-Based Groups.
“Despite the advocacy of many countries on the prevention of HIV/AIDS, the incidence continue to rise, thus, here in our country we really need to work harder to strengthen our fight against HIV AIDS,” said Dr Micah Veloso, Head of HIV/AIDS Treatment Hub of Ospital ng Palawan.
Since 1984 to date, there are already 200 cases of HIV/AIDS accounted for in Palawan. Of which, 96 people living with HIV are now undergoing treatment at Palawan Treatment Hub while six (6) were not able to survive.
Josephine Macalagay, Social Technology Unit Head, expressed DSWD’s commitment to support fight against HIV/AIDS. According to Macalagay: “DSWD is continuously providing social services for HIV/AIDS affected individuals by giving financial and medical assistance. Also, we give emotional support not just with affected but also with their families.”
Highlights of activity were sharing of testimonies of people living with HIV/AIDS and candle lighting: inner circle was lighted by guests and government officials while outer circle was lighted by youth participants in order to showcase convergence of generations in advocating fight against HIV/AIDS.
“It was painful for me to have HIV. I experienced discrimination from the community but it didn’t stop me from living my life to the fullest. Luckily, I was blessed with people who provided me emotional and medical support. Now it’s time for me to give back by volunteering to the organizations that helped me. Let us End Aids Together!” voiced out by one of the PLHIV.