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December 1 is World Aids Day

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(BY: REV. BERLIE G. YAP) How worst is the HIV/AIDS taking the toll in our country or to our City itself recently? HIV/AIDS is contagious disease, but unlike to flu, other seasonal viruses and even the present dreaded Ebola virus or the MERS-CoV, its infection can’t be gotten via air-born, handshake, hugging, or even as ordinary as replacing a seat from an HIV/AIDS infected person.

HIV/AIDS can only be simply or strictly transmitted through sexual contact, I.V. or blood transfusion, and by placenta—meant, by a conceiving infected mother to her gestated foetus. Thus, the notion of ordinary contaminations, rather than through the said true transmissions, is scientifically baseless and is only a flop hearsay which is obviously a result to mere ignorance.

This is the reason why authorities—the Department of Health (DOH), the City Health Offices (CHO), and the Local Government Units (LGU), in the Philippines tirelessly go to educate the regular citizens on the facts of the HIV/AIDS including its mode of transmissions. Because if such endeavour cannot be done, infected ones can be discriminated and, worse, they will definitely conceal their conditions and, thus, transmit more to others.

There is no treatment of cure to the disease HIV/AIDS. However, through a healthy lifestyle, an infected one can still prolong his life and even become a strong advocate to its fight against its spread like to the ZCHO’s volunteer Roderick, who is an admitted gay and who was gang-raped by foreigners in Cebu City which caused his infection.

The man overcame his stigma, hence, came out to open because he eventually overcame his desperations. He thought that it was already his end, after his discovery. Yet, through the help of the ZCHO’s counsellors, he gradually bounced back. He is now a turned advocate in the fight against its spread and infection.

The Local Aids Council (LAC), through the leadership of the City’s Executive, Mayor Beng, endeavours best efforts to monitor the spread, infection, treatment and etc. of the disease here in Zamboanga. Taking into consideration that the City is a trans-shipment ground to many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), who are either documented or not, to our closest country, which is Malaysia.

One cannot know that any returning OFW could silently be carrying the disease and later transmits to the local population! LAC comes into the scenario for the education and monitoring to any suspected infections.

CHO Dr. Rodelin Agbulos said, in his opening remarks on Tuesday evening, December 2, in the celebration of the World AIDS Day (WAD) here in Zamboanga, that the recent data nationwide reports more than 500 infections are confirmed in the country just in a one month time. Here as well in Zamboanga, a rise of a significant percent is also reported.

It takes an active and offensive action by the authorities and the general public itself, if not to totally bar its spread, at least to minimize it. We must learn the lesson to some of the African countries where in the past, they just didn’t mind its spread and infection, until they only discovered that it already claimed a huge percent of their population bringing their people to a brink of destruction.

The World Health Organization (WHO) enacted a resolution for the observance of the WAD every December 1st. Zamboanga City, due to our not so good experience last year, also marked, at the same time, the lighting of the Christmas lights at the City Hall on December 1, thus, LAC gave way and celebrated WAD the following day, December 2 instead.

It was done with a march from the Paseo del Mar to the RT Lim Blvd. It was attended by hundreds of locals—government offices, the military, police, students, and other stakeholders. It culminated in a formal program and ended with a lighting of more than a dozen flying lanterns which was led by no less than the City Mayor, Mayor Beng, CHO Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, and the DOH Regional Director, Dr. Nimfa Torrizo.

“And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?’” Exo. 35:15-16

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