THE Department of Health (DOH) urged all commercial establishments, workplaces and schools to raise a Pilipinas United to Stop Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) banner.

In a memorandum of the DOH obtained from the Davao Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC), the DOH asked the establishments, workplaces and schools to raise the banner for one-week as sign of support to its advocacy.

The DOH will commemorate the Philippine International Aids Candlelight Memorial (PIACM) on May 14, Saturday, in partnership with The Project Red Ribbon (TRR) and Pilipinas Shell.

Undersecretary of the Health Office for Technical Services Vicente Y. Belizario Jr. said the Aid candlelight memorial is a global event that is not only a commemoration for those who died of the virus but also a platform for HIV-Aids awareness.

Belizario said the event will highlight the launching of the Philippine Aids Hour wherein the public is encouraged to light a candle from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. as a symbol of hope in finding solutions to the challenges posed by the HIV-Aids.

"The Aids Hour specifically aims to further raise the awareness of the public about the importance of practicing safe sex and knowing their status through HIV testing," Belizario said.

He added that to add more impact to the event, commercial establishments, workplaces and schools are encouraged to raise a Pilipinas United to Stop HIV-Aids (Push) during the candlelight week from May to 14.

Belizario said the call-to-action message this year is "Know Your Status, Get Tested," with "practice safe sex" and "free testing and treatment" as sub-messages.

In line with this, all DOH regional offices and its attached agencies and retained hospitals are instructed to include Aids Hour and putting the Push banner during the candlelight memorial activities in their respective areas.

The regional health authorities are also encouraged to work with the local TRR coordinators or point persons for the harmonious conduct of the Aids Hour.

RHWC-Davao head Dr. Jordana Ramiterre said the center recorded 76 cases of HIV-Aids in Davao City from January to February this year. She added that 59 were found to have been afflicted with HIV while 17 others have full-blown Aids.

She said the number of the HIV-Aids cases in the city have been increasing despite the awareness campaign initiated by health groups in coordination with other local government agencies.

Ramiterre said a lot of people are not yet ready to undergo testing though it is offered for free. She added that there were only 4,577 clients who went for a test in different laboratory centers here from January to December in 2015.

Of the 4,577 clients who have been tested, 201 were found positive and 4,370 were found negative of the HIV-Aids.