Zambales local officials, other sectors pledge commitment to end HIV/AIDS stigma

SAN FELIPE, Zambales – Local officials and other concerned sectors here recently pledged to fight the dreaded Human Immuno Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the province by campaigning to end its spread and stigma.

Municipal Mayor, Atty. Carolyn J. Fariñas led the signing of the pledge facilitated by the Department of Health (DoH) and supported by the provincial government headed by Governor Amor Deloso at the town’s Multi-purpose Hall during the commemoration of World AIDS Day 2017, which was celebrated province-wide over the weekend.

Vice Governor Angelica Magsaysay-Cheng represented Deloso in the signing of the pledge.

“We, the officials, leaders, health personnel, implementers and stakeholders hereby commit to take all means, promote policies, issue directives, educate constituents, undertake methods, proactively campaign and disseminate information toward ensuring an HIV-AIDS-Free province of Zambales and our country – the Philippines,” the pledge read.

“We commit to carry on as a matter of policy in all levels the call to action – Know Your Status. Get tested for HIV-AIDS now! We shall ensure as part of our everyday lives our common battlecry STOP HIV-AIDS.”

In an interview, the mayor said: “All pledged to commit themselves to actively promote HIV/AIDS awareness in their community in support to the Department of Health’s (DOH) HIV/AIDS Prevention program. This means that each of us carry out our individual obligations to ensure that every student, every man and woman, every citizen become aware of the disease and be sensitive to those who are living with it.’’

Fariñas, also a lawyer, is known for her health programs and has been actively promoting HIV/AIDS awareness in her municipality through her information education campaign. During the occasion, the mayor was also conferred the Red Orchid Award for her “Clean Air San Felipe” program making her a hall of famer for winning three consecutive times for the town’s “No Smoking’’ campaign.

The occasion saw thousands of Zambalenos in red and pink joining the motorcade in support to the global fight against the dreaded disease and the fight to end the negative impact of HIV. A simple program was held to educate the constituents about prevention of the disease, and a dance contest for entertainment.

A person living with HIV/AIDS was the guest speaker at the occasion, where she shared her experience and appealed to the public to end the isolation experienced by people living with the disease.

DOH records show that HIV cases in the Philippines have increased since 1984. As of August 2017, the country has a total of 46, 985 HIV positive cases. The number is estimated to reach 142, 000 by 2022, and 313, 00 by 2031.

Of the regions, Central Luzon which include Zambales, ranked fourth with the highest HIV cases or 9 per cent of the total figure nationwide.

DOH cumulative data from Jan. 1984 to May 2017 showed there were a total 4,181 AIDS cases. Of this, 2,156 have died from it.