By Patrick Cendreda
DAGUPAN CITY – The City Government of Dagupan conducted the annual commemoration of the World AIDS Day on December 1 at the City Plaza with the theme “Getting to Zero; Zero Discrimination; Zero New Infections and Zero AIDS Related Deaths”.
The program was participated in by local government employees, barangay volunteers, students, and private individuals.
Guest of honor and speaker was Epee Rafanan, an AIDS awareness advocate and former director of the Trilingual AIDS Hotline in California, USA.
Rafanan emphasized the importance of increasing participation in the local AIDS campaign since the disease is a global problem that has affected many countries including the Philippines. This includes the mobilization of the needed resources to prevent HIV/AIDS and providing the public with health programs and services.
The Philippines, along with Indonesia and Pakistan, was identified as one of only three Asian countires as having “worryingly-high” numbers of new HIV infections in 2013.
“There is no cure for AIDS, so we need to spread the message of education and prevention. The best weapon against this disease is really knowledge – to teach each individual about HIV and AIDS,” said Rafanan.
Rafanan added that the local government plays a significant role in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as they are in the forefront of promoting awareness and implementing actions on HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Leonard Carbonell, city health officer, said that part of the information and education campaign of the local government, particularly the social hygiene clinic, is providing lay forums within the community.
The local government, led by Mayor Belen T. Fernandez, has pledged to continue its advocacy on HIV/AIDS and the education campaign for the community, especially the youth sector.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 39 million people worldwide have died from AIDS, and an estimated 35.3 million people are living with the dreaded disease.
World AIDS Day, now on its 26th year, aims to raise awareness, education and resisting prejudice and raising money for victims of the deadly virus. Information about the status of the illness and progress in prevention, treatment and care are shared worldwide. (CIO photo by Mitz Cresencio)