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Young, Free, and Positive: CSO leads HIV awareness

Aiming to raise the HIV/AIDS awareness of Dasmariñas City’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), the Council of Student Organizations (CSO) and the Lasallian Community Development Center (LCDC) organized an outreach activity titled Young, Free, and Positive at the Alumni Auditorium yesterday, February 23.

According to Gerard Maro, CSO Coordinator for Outreach Activities, there is a need for people in and outside the perimeters of the university to take the issue of HIV/AIDS seriously. “Kailangang isapuso talaga ang mga ganitong advocacy [tungkol sa HIV/AIDS],” he said, “Kasi napapanahon at kailangan na talaga nating kumilos [bilang] mga kabataan.”

On HIV-prevention and stigma-reduction

The speakers of the event involved HIV/AIDS advocates from non-government organizations and local government units. Symson Maquera, counselor from Dasmariñas Social Hygiene Clinic, bolstered the knowledge of the participants on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). He said that abstinence, faithfulness to a single partner, proper sex education, and early HIV/AIDS detection can be effective in preventing the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, Dr. Soledad Mendiola, a physician from the same clinic, said that the participation of the youth in educational seminars like this is significant in HIV-prevention and stigma-reduction. They also shared that a person with HIV/AIDS can receive free Antiretroviral Therapy which help slow down the replication of the virus.

Mr. Joseph Cadelina, an HIV/AIDS volunteer, likewise shared their story as advocates from Love Yourself, Inc., an organization that boost the self-worth of people with HIV/AIDS. He said that as youth leaders, local SK Officials can ask for the Adolescent Health and Development Program framework from DOH to combat health issues like HIV/AIDS in the local community.

At the event, an advocate named Kuya Louie, 34 years old, was invited onstage to share his story being HIV- positive. He said that having HIV is not a curse. For him, it was in fact a blessing that bridged him to realize his mission in life to be an advocate and a living testimony against the stigma. He said that “Pag-unawa, pagtanggap, at patas na karapatan” is what people with HIV need at these trying times when discrimination is still rampant.

Mobilizing the youth

The Young, Free, and Positive outreach event aims not only to educate people about HIV/AIDS but also to compel them to take action—especially the youth who are at most risk. The United Nations AIDS Council (UNAIDS) reported in 2018 that 32 Filipinos on average are infected by HIV on a daily basis. From 1984 to 2018, there are almost 7,700 diagnosed individuals in CALABARZON alone. According to the 2018 report of DOH, three of the eight HIV/AIDS high risk areas are found in Cavite (Bacoor, Imus, and Dasmariñas). In Dasmariñas, 262,562 people aged 10 to 29 or 40% of the total population are at risk of acquiring the disease.

This is why Van Dofitas, President of Bahaghari Advocacy Group, reiterated that there is a need for proactive action to combat the issue of HIV/AIDS especially in the local community. “As SK Officials, you are duty-bearers; meron kayong responsibilidad na dapat gampanan.” He added that the advocacy group had been continually communicating with the LCDC to raise more consciousness to the Lasallians. “Ito ay upang magising ang mga kabataan sa [DLSU-D] tungkol sa [mga dapat nilang malaman ukol sa] HIV at AIDS.”

The mobilization of the youth sector to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS is a challenge for the SK Officials of Dasmariñas City, according to Jerome Gonzales, Vice-President of the Provincial SK Federation. “Hamon sa [amin] na ilapit ang mga organisasyon sa kabataan, ilapit ang karunungan, at maging proactive,” he said. In response, SK Chairman John Buenaobra aims to coordinate with HIV/AIDS advocates to ask them for more events ideas other than a seminar. Lasallian alumni and current SK Councilor Arvin Agetano, meanwhile, said that they are planning to integrate HIV/AIDS education on their upcoming youth camps, which they have been conducting for the past six years.

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The Young, Free, and Positive outreach event of the CSO and LCDC gave light to the issue of HIV/AIDS—this time, enlightening those who can create actual platforms and frameworks to combat the spread of the disease in the local community. The event is also a reminder that to create ripples of change towards the issue of HIV/AIDS, the SK officials—and the youth of Dasmariñas as a whole—must first be immersed in the water.

Here are the following Primary HIV Care Facilities in CALABARZON to seek assistance or help, if a person or their loved one has HIV/AIDS:

 

  • Antipolo Social Hygiene Clinic

 

  1. Santos St., Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City

(02) 696-4097

 

  • Dasmariñas City Health Office I (SHC)

 

Zone 2, Manggubat St., City Health Office I, Dasmariñas, Cavite

(046) 416-0279/09177902168

 

  • Bacoor Social Hygiene Clinic

 

Floraville Subdivision, Panapaan 1, Bacoor City

09086144183

  • Imus Social Hygiene Clinic

Medicion 1C, Velarde Subdivision, Imus

(046) 434-4057/09267013539/09258787158