People living with HIV/Aids growing in Northern Mindanao

HUMAN Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) advocates gathered during Tuesday's World Aids Day celebration, recognizing and supporting people living with the disease in Northern Mindanao.

Although the Department of Health (DOH) refused to reveal numbers of individuals living with HIV-Aids in the region, Dr. David Mendoza, head of the Regional Epidemiology, Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit (RESDRU) of DOH, said the number continues to increase.

"This is why we are here, ang atong focus, is kadtong aduna gyuy mga risgu, kadtong makighilawas na dili safe, ato unta nang gi-awhag na magpa-test para ma-check na kung unsay status nila," Mendoza said.

In this year's celebration, he said one must convince a friend and accompany him or her to get tested.

"Mao na karon ang atong hagit para ma-feel gyud sa isa na dili siya alone, ug safe magpa-test kay naa gyud diha naka-bind ang confidentiality between sa nag-test ug ang magpa-test," Mendoza said.

"Kung dili sila magpa-examine, unya kabalo sila na anaa sa risgu ang ilang lifestyle, dapat hatagan nila ug luna ug i-consider nila kay para raman pud kini sa ila," Mendoza added.

A group of HIV/Aids advocates decided to create the group "Kagay-an Preserving Life, Uniting Society (Plus) Inc." which had its launching Tuesday, December 1.

It is a non-government organization composed mostly of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender/transsexuals (LGBT).

"Gihimo ni siya na organization as support system sa kadtong people living with HIV (plHIV) to educate them and encourage them to get tested especially since ang male having sex with male ang taas gihapon ug number sa mga plHIV," John Paul Suazo, a member said.

The group launched its photo exhibit on Tuesday at the second floor of the Limketkai Mall to raise funds for the plHIVs.

"Naa mi tshirts na mapalit at P300 and kung gusto gyud ka magpa-picture with the shirt pwede ka magbayad ug P600. This is to support sa mga plHIVs," Suazo said.

Activities recognizing the World Aids Day are being conducted in the city, such as ‘Lima,’ an HIV advocacy monologues, a multisectoral forum on HIV/Aids, and the World Aids Day run, among others.
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