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Editorial | Candlelight memorial

Every third Sunday in May, for the past 27 years, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial takes place across the world to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS, the pandemic that killed millions of people since it was reported. Today, the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) estimates that 38 million people are living with HIV today.

There was no mass gathering last Sunday but advocates lighted candles in their homes to remember those who lost their lives due to the killer virus and find ways to work for the eradication of stigma for those who are living with HIV/AIDS.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is: We remember – We take action – We live beyond HIV.

In August 2019, there were 1,228 newly confirmed HIV-positive individuals reported to the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) of the Department of Health. This is 17% higher compared with the diagnosed cases (1,047) in the same period last year. Of this number, 185 cases had clinical manifestations of advanced HIV infection.

Also, 1,170 cases (95%) were males and almost half of those affected (47%) were 25-35 years old.

The HIV/AIDS and ART Registry also showed that Davao Region is in the fifth rank of regions with the most number of reported cases from January 1984 to August 2010. At the top is NCR with 27,249 (38%) cases, Region 4A with 10,649 (15%) cases, Region 3 with 6,660 (9%) cases, Region 7 with 6,246 (9%) cases, and Region 11 with 3,966 (6%) cases. The rest of the country comprised 20% (14,832) of the cases. There are 1,138 (2%) cases that did not report their region of residence.

This pandemic is made more serious at the time of COVID-19. Those living with HIV/AIDS become very vulnerable to the coronavirus. With the ban on mass gatherings, commemorating the day became more personal and introspective. We remember those who lost their lives to AIDS and strive to erase the stigma tied to the pandemic.

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