THE Baguio City Government spearheaded by the Health Services Office (HSO) in coordination with the Baguio Aids Watch Council (AWAC) observed the 33rd International Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids) Candlelight Memorial and the first-ever Philippine Aids Hour last May 14.

With this year’s theme “Engage, Educate, Empower”, various agencies including non-government organizations of Baguio, HSO, City Social Welfare and Development Office, Department of Health-CAR, Baguio Center for Young Adults, Family Planning Organizations of the Philippines, among others will join the said activity.

In order to save lives of the generation and for the next generation, the activity aims to raise awareness and consciousness to the public about the infection not only to the people of Baguio but of the whole nation as a whole.

Since 2006, the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center which is among the identified National HIV Screening and Treatment Center has recorded 179 HIV cases wherein 65 are in the 25 to 34 years old bracket and 39 cases are in the 15 to 24 years of age.

HIV virus can be transmitted from one person to another through sexual contact, blood transfusion, sharing of needles, and from a mother to a child.

It is a life-long disease and many people with HIV worldwide are dying because they are not properly monitored and not given the right medication.

Baguio based artists, journalists and representatives of the religious sector, non-government organizations (NGOs) led by Advocacy and Communications Specialist Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc. (The Forum), in partnership with Melinda Gates Foundation, and in cooperation with Melda de Vera of Health Action Information Network (HAIN), Love Yourself Movement, Ili Likha, Axis Cordi, Rainbow Barracks, Metropolitan Church of Christ and the Department of Health (DOH) Cordillera Regional Office and National Artist Kidlat Tahimik also joined the candle lighting memorial.

Started in 1983, the International Aids Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries.

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial also commemorates those who passed away due to the dreaded Aids. (Baguio PIO)