AIDS candlelight memorial highlights awareness drive

A Candlelight memorial was held recently at the Rizal Park, Tagbilaran City with this year’s theme “Engage, Educate and Empower”.

The International AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) Candlelight Memorial is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness and honor those who died because of the epidemic.

The Department of Health (DOH) conducted HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) testing and counseling. HIV has become a chronic disease and millions of people are currently living with it. And this disease remains a formidable case. The activity emphasizes the need for people affected by HIV to work together in response to HIV.

HIV/AIDS prevention program is a regular program of the Red Cross particularly at the Red Cross Youth department. They have a program called HAPE-SAPE which means HIV AIDS Prevention Program and Substance Abused Prevention Program. And they are regularly conducting the HAPE-SAPE in every training of the Red Cross Youth.

The activity was attended by the employees of the Provincial Health Office. Gov. Edgar Chatto who was on official trip to Manila was represented by Isabelo ‘Tatay Billy’ Tongco.

Also gracing the event were Valentino Gamutin, city executive assistant representing Mayor John Geesnell ‘’Baba’’ Yap; George T. Lim, chairman, RCY Service; Dr. Reymoses Cabagnot, MD, Department of Health Head, Boel ESPINAS, RN, Nurse V National Aids and STI Prevention and Control Program and Leonita Relamida, HIV/STI coordinator, Population Commission Officer; Dr. Apollo John Bernaldez, City Health Officer; Emmanuel Pilayre, REA, CSR Fund Generation, Volunteers and Red Cross Youth Services, Jinky Allen Vale, CYC president and Christine Joy Bongcaras, RCY chairman HAPE-SAPE and the Red Cross staff.

Philippine Red Cross-Bohol Chapter Administrator Merlinda G. Batoy in her message said, ‘’We should not discriminate peoplenwho are affected by HIV and we also honored them though there are some people which they think that HIV victims are not good persons then we twisted their minds with the program with activity, with the testimonials of those affected over the screen so it enlightens the minds of the people that though there are people affected by this epidemic they should be also treated as a normal human person”.

As a person they have the right to be respected, not to be discriminated and they have the right to go on with their lives as a normal person, Batoy added.

They are organizing youth and schools even out of schools to participate in the Red Cross voluntarism program and they called it Red Cross Youth.

Batoy was also hoping that parents, teachers, elderly will guide their children to become part of the humanitarian organizations so that they might be trained, enhanced and they can harness their talents in the Red Cross Way. (Bethyl Faith Alo)


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