QUEZON CITY (PIA) -- The Philippine Information Agency joins the nation in the observance of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on May 8, 2023, at the PIA Central Office in Quezon City.
PIA Executive Directorate headed by Director-General Ramon Lee Cualoping III, PIA Division Heads, together with Department of Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, Project Red Ribbon Care Management Foundation, Inc. President Ico Rodulfo Johnson, representatives from Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc and Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) secretariat light candles and display the red ribbon as a tribute to those who died because of AIDS and as reverence to devoted men and women to end HIV. This is also to show support to people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHAs) and their families.
This tradition serves not only as a commemoration of the departed but also to bring hope to people living with HIV that they can still live healthier and longer lives. This is also a celebration of life, the advocacies, and the successes of HIV response in the country.
Director-General Cualoping III recognizing the important role of PIA in information dissemination urges everyone to join the cause in breaking the stigma and ending discrimination against people living with HIV. At the same time, he encourages everyone to dispel fake information surrounding it.
“It is our role to help spread awareness, help communicate the right information, dismiss disinformation, and make sure that, hopefully, one day there will be zero transmission of HIV (in the country),” DG Cualoping said.
Moreover, DOH Asec. Dr. Ho assures everyone that the health government has programs for prevention as well as free treatment for those who will be found to be reactive to HIV.
“Back in the 1980’s ikakamatay mo ang HIV and AIDS. Ngayon, hindi na. We have good technologies, we have medicines for it and the government provides these benefits. So hindi kayo dapat matakot,” Dr. Ho said.
Immediately following the candlelight memorial, a simultaneous face-to-face and virtual orientation on HIV and AIDS has been conducted at the PIA Auditorium and via Zoom. The activity is aimed at raising awareness as well as dispelling myths about HIV and AIDS.
Dr. Roland Sardan of the DOH – Disease Prevention and Control Bureau shares the mode of transmission of HIV contrary to some beliefs. According to him, HIV can be transmitted through the following:
- Vaginal fluid
He dismisses the disinformation that HIV can be transmitted through saliva, sweats, and tears. He also dismisses the myth that HIV can be transmitted through hugging people with HIV, sharing personal things, food and drinks and even using the same toilet.
Dr. Sardan emphasizes the need to know these facts about HIV for us to understand it better. He further shares that the following can be modes of transmission of HIV:
- Sexual contact-male-to-male
-male-to-female or vice versa
- Blood exposure
-injecting drugs using shared needles
-transfusion of blood products
-transmission from mother to baby
- Occupational transmission
-healthcare worker/hospital staff
- Other routes
Dr. Sardan highlights that we can do something to prevent contracting HIV. The health department has all the interventions and provides free protection such as condoms and lubes and PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) to reduce our chance of getting HIV from the abovementioned usual modes of transmission.
Moreover, Project Red Ribbon President Johnson underscores the importance of knowing the law and having policies about HIV and AIDS in the workplace in ending stigma and discrimination against PLHIV.
He then calls on everyone to change the narrative and dispel the myths about HIV and AIDS by educating ourselves and using proper words as a response emphasizing that language matters.
“It starts from you. It’s how we act. Language matters. It’s not enough na alam mo pero how you deal and communicates with people.”
PIA kicks off the observance of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial among national government agencies to encourage the public to get tested and urge those who tested positive to avail of free treatment, care, and support services. More importantly, this event is a call to spread love and solidarity, not stigma and fear against PLHIV. (KSAA – PIA CPSD)