The City Health Office (CHO) joined the whole world in the International AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Candle Lighting Memorial on May 30 with the theme “Ending AIDS Together”.
City Health Officer Dr. Mariano Antonio Banzon said that the city government was not merely commemorating the international AIDS day, but was promoting a more proactive response to it.
The CHO did so through a community mobilization campaign that would raise Balangueños’ social consciousness about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS.
In fact, the CHO appointed a focal person that would handle affairs with people having HIV or sexually transmitted infection (STI), in the person of Ms. Jowee Zabala.
In his speech, Dr. Banzon expressed alarm over the growing number of HIV cases in Bataan. The age of infected people range from 15 to 25. Those aged 25 are most affected due to being sexually active. Still, the youth sector has the most number of HIV, AIDS, and STI cases.
Dr. Banzon also emphasized the city government’s focus on mental health programs. According to him, the city’s comprehensive counseling program would guide the population regardless of their gender preferences.
Dr. Bhen Anthony Bautista, rural health physician, lectured on STI’s prevention through a video presentation. Dr. Bautista also talked about the difference between HIV and AIDS. According to him, abstinence from sexual activity, faithfulness to one’s partner, refraining from illegal drug abuse, and education are the best means for early prevention.
In memory of AIDS victims, a symbolic candle lighting ceremony was immediately held after the talk. A prayer was also offered for those who are still suffering and are neglected because of social stigma.
While the events were on going, the CHO offered free HIV counselling and testing. By Cyrus Dela Cruz