AIDS or the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The two species of Lentivirus that infect humans which can progressively make failures of the immune system allowing life-threatening opportunities such as infections and cancers to thrive in the body.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective prevention interventions are available: preventing mother-to-child-transmission, male and female condom use, harm reduction interventions, pre-exposure prophylaxis, post-exposure prophylaxis, voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), and antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) which can control the virus and help prevent onward transmission to other people”.
But on the other hand, the WHO also states that “HIV can be diagnosed through rapid diagnostic tests that can provide same-day results. HIV self-tests are increasingly available and provide an effective and acceptable alternative way to increase access to people who are not reached for HIV testing through facility-based services. Rapid tests and self-tests have greatly facilitated diagnosis and linkage with treatment and care”.
Based on the January 2021 data on HIV/AIDS and Art Registry of the Philippines (HARP), there were 890 confirmed cases of HIV-positive individuals reported to the HARP. 96% of the total numbers were mal, while the other 24% are reported their self-identity as female
(transgender women) during the test. Half of the cases between ages 25-34 years old at the time of diagnosis were (53%, 468), 15-24 years old are (25%, 220), 35-49 years old is 20% (179), 50 years and older is 2% (21), and <1% (2) were lesser in ages than 15 years old.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a news release he said that “Today we join the rest of the world in honoring the lives of people who have succumbed to AIDS and in celebrating those who have dedicated their lives to help increase HIV awareness and address HIV-related stigma and discrimination”.
“As we commemorate the AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day, we reaffirm our commitment to ensure continuous access to HIV services and strengthen our efforts to control and eventually reverse the HIV epidemic,” he added.
The Ceremony was held in Barangay Poblacion, Municipality of San Vicente with the efforts of the Local Government Unit (LGU), Municipal Social Welfare & Development Office (MSWDO) in partnership with the Office of the Sangguniang Kabataan Municipal Federation and the KKDAT or Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo, Office of the Bureau of Fire Protection, and Philippine National Police and Municipal Health Office.
During the ceremony, Municipal Health Officer Dra. Mercy Grace Sipole-Pablico, said that “This International AIDS candlelight memorial, yearly (ginagawa) ‘yan, every 3rd Sunday of May. Since the Department of Health is very keen on keeping us safe from COVID-19, without interrupting other health programs & one of those nga is HIV services”.
“It's a simultaneous activity with HIV screening, testing & counseling. Ang attendees natin are 15 years old and above, around 80 participants including Sangguniang Kabataan representatives from 10 barangays and uniformed personnel from our police forces, marines and coast guard and representatives from Roots of Health,” Palico added.
The theme for the International AIDS Candle Lighting this year was “We Remember, We Take Action, We Live Beyond HIV”.