Zon­tians call for unity vs HIV/AIDS

Cebu Daily News - - COMMUNITY -

In cel­e­bra­tion of World AIDS Day, the Zonta Club of Cebu II called for “unity” against the epi­demic that has in­fected nearly 60,000 Filipinos and killed al­most 3,000.

“The com­mem­o­ra­tion of World AIDS Day is a cel­e­bra­tion of unity. If we unite as one peo­ple, then we can com­bat this dis­ease head on,” said Zonta II mem­ber and LGBT cham­pion Re­gal Oliva.

“While we con­dole with the loved ones of those who have de­parted with this dis­ease, we send high hopes to those af­flicted now that life can still be as nor­mal as pos­si­ble, if they re­ceive reg­u­lar treat­ment,” shared Dr. Vivien Seno, fo­cal per­son to the Man­daue AIDS Coun­cil for Zonta Club of Cebu II.

“HIV/AIDS is a grow­ing con­cern not only for one de­mo­graphic. It chooses no gen­der and can af­fect so­ci­ety if we do noth­ing. We can still stop AIDS. Get tested now. Know your sta­tus,” she added.

Fight­ing AIDS through greater aware­ness and pre­ven­tion is a top pri­or­ity be­cause more and more Filipinos are af­flicted with the dis­ease.

HIV causes AIDS, or the Ac­quired Im­mune De­fi­ciency Syn­drome, which destroys the hu­man body’s nat­u­ral abil­ity to fight off all kinds of in­fec­tions. The con­di­tion still does not have any known cure.

An­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment (ART) has been known to slow down the ad­vance of HIV in cases de­tected early.

At least 31,458 Filipinos liv­ing with HIV were listed as un­der­go­ing ART as of Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Health.

“It is im­por­tant that we con­trol the spread of HIV early on. Get­ting tested is a good start,” Oliva said.

As part of its World AIDS Day cel­e­bra­tion, Zonta Club of Cebu II to­gether with the Man­daue City gov­ern­ment had a can­dle light­ing cer­e­mony on Novem­ber 29 at the Man­daue City Her­itage Plaza to re­mem­ber all those who have been lost to the epi­demic and to call for unity to fight AIDS.

An HIV/AIDS Congress was also held on De­cem­ber 1 at Cebu Doc­tors' Uni­ver­sity au­di­to­rium to in­crease aware­ness on the dreaded dis­ease.

Dr. Van Philipp Ba­ton, Pro­gram Man­ager, HIV/AIDS Pro­gram of DOH-7, led a pow­er­house of speak­ers who talked on dif­fer­ent is­sues and con­cerns about the epi­demic.

Dur­ing the ba­sic HIV ori­en­ta­tion, the fol­low­ing top­ics have been tack­led such as HIV/AIDS Epi­demi­ol­ogy and Na­tional Sta­tis­tics; HIV and AIDS Pol­icy Act, and HIV coun­sel­ing and test­ing.

A panel dis­cus­sion to ad­dress the Cebu drug prob­lem to mit­i­gate HIV spread was also con­ducted fo­cus­ing on the pro­grams to pre­vent and to ad­dress drug ad­dic­tion; DSWD Re­tained and De­volved Pro­grams and Ser­vices for Peo­ple Liv­ing with HIV (PLHIV); and Self- De­ter­mi­na­tion & Out-Pa­tient Drug Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

The se­cond panel dis­cus­sion high­lighted the pre­ven­tion of mother to child trans­mis­sion of HIV; Women Em­pow­er­ment where the speak­ers shared about the man­age­ment of preg­nant PLHIV; man­age­ment of HIV-ex­posed in­fants, and sup­port group for PLHIV moth­ers.

The third panel dis­cus­sion talked about the SOGIE and HIV/AIDS: Pre­ven­tion of Sex­ual Trans­mis­sion where the par­tic­i­pants were briefed about Sex­ual Ori­en­ta­tion, Gen­der Iden­tity and Ex­pres­sion (SOGIE); Re­duc­ing Risky Be­hav­iours; HIV/AIDS in Closed Set­tings (in­mates and fe­male sex work­ers) and the Holis­tic Ap­proach to Sup­port for PLHIVs.

The last panel dis­cus­sion fo­cused on the Man­age­ment of HIV/AIDS in Ado­les­cents and Adults. The fol­low­ing top­ics have been dis­cussed such as: Post-ex­po­sure Pro­phy­laxis; Treat­ment Al­go­rithms: ARVs, Co-in­fec­tions with TB, HBV and HCV; Man­age­ment of Op­por­tunis­tic In­fec­tions: Recogni- tion, Di­ag­no­sis and Treat­ment of OIs; Man­age­ment of HIV-In­fected Health­care Work­ers.

At­ten­dees of the World AIDS Day cel­e­bra­tion spear­headed by the Man­daue City gov­ern­ment and Zonta Club of Cebu II light can­dles in re­mem­brance of those who have died of AIDS and to show unity in fight­ing the epi­demic.

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