December 6, 2022

The Baguio AIDS Watch Council (AWAC) and the city government through the City Health Services Office have called for solidarity in increasing awareness about HIV, especially on breaking down the stigma and discrimination that persons living with HIV (PLHIV) experience within the community.

AWAC members headed by Assistant City Health Officer Celiaflor Brillantes and Baguio officials headed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong led the lighting and offering of candles for PLHIV and to those who  died from the disease  in  a localized commemoration program of the 2021 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial last May 24.

Brillantes said HIV continues to be a serious health threat in the country with a record high of 32 reported infections per day and with a total of 85,651 cases recorded since January 1984.

The community lockdowns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic also affected the access to life saving testing and treatment services, she added.

The city government provides monitoring, screening, and health care to PLHIV through the Health Services Office’s Reproductive Health and Wellness Clinic that was officially certified as an HIV Treatment Hub since October 2019.

It is currently catering to 88 HIV patients wherein 85 are males.

To improve the HIV Treatment Hub’s services, Brillantes, who also handles the RHWC, called for the support of the city council for the purchase of a CD4 count testing machine.

CD4 is type of white blood cells that helps a person’s body fights infection and in case of HIV patient, the CD4 count determines the status of immune system of the patient against the virus.

Brillantes also assured the AWAC and the CHSO are ready to closely work with the city council’s committee on health in drafting and enacting an ordinance that will localize the implementation of Republic Act 11166 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act.

RA 11166 helps elevate attention to HIV/AIDS and in addressing some of the critical gaps and challenges in the HIV program in the country, she said.

Still in line with the observance of International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, the Baguio AWAC and the CHSO are also set to provide free HIV testing and information campaign at the People’s Park on Sunday on May 30. 

They also enjoin the public to show their unity in the campaign against HIV/AIDS. – Carlito C. Dar