Baguio LGU, DOH renew commitment in fight against HIV/AIDS

BAGUIO CITY (PIA) – – The City Government of Baguio and the Department of Health – Cordillera (DOH – CAR) led other partners in renewing their commitment in the fight against HIV/AIDS (Human immunodeficiency virus/Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), and in pushing for compassion and understanding for people living with HIV (PLHIV).

The Baguio City AIDS Watch Council headed by the City Health Services Office led partners and stakeholders for the observance of International AIDS Candlelight Memorial with a solemn program, offering of prayers and candle lighting at the Burnham Park Lake on May 10.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong, in his keynote message delivered by Doy Tabilog, called for a continuing solidarity and commitment in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and in bringing an understanding and caring community for PLHIV.

“As we light our candles in solidarity, let us recommit ourselves to the light against HIV/AIDS. Let us stand as beacons of hope, shining a light on the path towards a future free from this disease,” he said.

“Together, we can build a world where HIV/AIDS is no longer a threat, where every individual is treated with dignity and respect, and where compassion and understanding prevail,” he added.

Acting Baguio City Health Officer Dr. Celiaflor Brillantes (5th from left) and DOH HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator Darwin Babon (right) lead partners in the candle lighting ceremony. (Clint Totanes. (PIA CAR)

A mother and child offer candles during the International Candlelight Memorial program at the Burnham Park Lake on May 10, 2024. (CCD/PIA CAR)

On the part of the DOH – CAR, HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator Darwin Babon, also called for united front in bringing in heightened awareness and in erasing the stigma of the disease to the PLHIV.

“Today, let us reflect on the importance of supporting  those living with HIV and AIDS and combating the stigma and discrimination that still surrounds this virus. Let us re -affirm our commitment to fostering a culture of inclusivity , respect and empathy  where every individual feels valued and supported, regardless of their HIV status,” Babon said.

“As we light candles of remembrance and hope, let us ignite a flame of awareness and action. Let us educate ourselves and others about HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and support services available. Let us continue to advocate for policies and practices that promote health equity and access to care for all,” he added.

Babon shared that despite the  advancements in treatment and prevention HIV/AIDS remains a significant global health challenge.

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial continues to serve as platform for raising awareness, promoting solidarity and advocating for the lights and dignity of all those affected by HIV/AIDS.

A global movement that started in 1983, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, which is being observed every 3rd Sunday of May, aims to honor those who had died from AIDS – related illnesses and to raise awareness about the epidemic.

A pastor leading a prayer for those who died due to HIV/AIDS and also for compassion to people living with HIV. (CCD/PIA CAR)

A Person Living with HIV shares his experience and advocates for HIV awareness and support for people like him. (CCD/PIA CAR)

In the Cordillera, DOH – CAR data shows that since the start of monitoring in 1984 up to December 2023, there are already 1,078 HIV/AIDS cases recorded in the region, including 143 cases for year 2023. There were also 167 HIV/AIDS- related deaths recorded.

Baguio City has the most number of cases with 633, followed by Benguet with 157, Abra with 138, Kalinga with 43, Ifugao with 42, Apayao with 33, and  Mountain Province with 32. (JDP/CCD-PIA CAR)

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