Contributed by PHO-Bataan Staff
CITY of BALANGA, Bataan – Come May 18, the province of Bataan, spearheaded by the Provincial Health Office (PHO), will be hosting the 35th annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial to be held at the historic Mt. Samat National shrine in Pilar.
Aimed at making laudable advocacy activity related to the HIV program in Central Luzon, this event likewise endeavors to honor the lost to AIDS and to show support to the PLHIVs; provide an avenue for culture and arts to be collaborated with the HIV Program; and bring about awareness and yield support from the general public towards the active response to HIV and AIDS.
Anchored on the theme, “Reflecting on our Past, Preparing for our Future!”, this year’s International AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. With 33 million people living with HIV today, said Memorial serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations.
The event will kick off with a foot parade in this city to culminate at the La Vista Resort for the scientific meeting and some competitions. In the afternoon, the participants will proceed to Mt. Samat for the candlelight ceremony.
When the AIDS Candlelight Memorial was first held in 1983, no-one could have predicted the scale and impact of the global HIV epidemic that is now well into its third decade. With millions of lives lost and close to 37 million people currently living with HIV, we, as a global community, remain profoundly challenged by this epidemic. For some, HIV has become a manageable chronic disease, yet for far too many HIV is a daily life or death struggle for treatment and care, adequate food, housing, and income, often in the face of pervasive HIV-related stigma, discrimination and violence. The HIV epidemic continues to shine a light on the injustices and exclusion in our societies, while opening space for continued solidarity and resistance by all of our beloved communities that have carried the weight of this epidemic, including gay men, transgender people, sex workers, people who use drugs, women and girls, and adolescents and children.
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial reminds us of the tremendous impact that HIV and the AIDS movement have had on our lives. The Memorial emphasizes the need for people living with and affected by HIV to join hands and reflect on the past and the precious lives that have been lost. The Memorial also calls on us to share our stories of challenge, perseverance, and triumph to educate the current and next generations about what the AIDS movement has achieved over the last three decades.
Finally, the Memorial asks us to work together, now more than ever, to sustain, strengthen and revitalize our worldwide response to HIV by looking forward and preparing for our future free of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and with universal access to the full range of human rights, including quality prevention, treatment and care services for all.