MANILA, Philippines – With the theme “One Big Fight for Health and Rights of People Living with HIV,” the 36th annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM) was held at the Philippine Army Grandstand in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig on Thursday, May 16.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines , through the Army, co-hosted this year’s IACM activity in partnership with the Department of Health, Philippine National Aids Council, and Project Red Ribbon.
The 2019 IACM event started with a parade of commitment, lead by the Philippine Army band, along with various partners of the HIV and AIDS advocacy in the country.
Meanwhile, parallel activities such as HIV testing, poster-making contest, and accomplishment display booths were also held for this year’s commemoration.
Members of the Philippine Army spearheaded the ceremonial unveiling of the red ribbon, an emblem of the battle against HIV and AIDS, with public health workers, and HIV and AIDS support organizations.
Project Red Ribbon president, Ico Rodulfo Johnson, said that this year’s commemoration is worth noting given that this was the first time that the Philippine Army is taking a significant role in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Army medics were trained and certified to conduct testing among its ranks.
This year, the commemoration started with an HIV testing week in social hygiene clinics and treatment hubs in Metro Manila from May 8-15.
Quezon City was recognized for the most number of people tested during the HIV testing week. Other HIV and AIDS partners also showcased their best practices through their exhibit booths.
“What is notable in this year’s IACM is the integration of inclusive testing. We have offered testing for minors in Boy’s Town in Marikina, one for prisoners in Valenzuela City Jail, and another for Taguig Drug Rehab,” Johnson said.
In addition, several private companies have also had their respective clinic nurses and doctors trained to conduct testing in their respective companies.
“Chevron, Teleperformance, and Sitel have already integrated HIV testing in their clinic services. This is a great initiative given that their sites now have their own clinics catering to their employees. By making HIV testing accessible, we hope we can encourage more people from these private companies to get tested.” Johnson added.
IACM, a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS, is spearheaded by the Global Network of People living with HIV. It serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations.
The memorial is usually commemorated every 3rd Sunday of May, with regional groups hosting their respective commemoration activities across the country. – Rappler.com