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Valencia City Joins 33rd International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

The City Government of Valencia through the Valencia City AIDS Council in partnership with Kaabag Valencia AIDS Prevention and Control Advocates (KAVAPCA) spearheads the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Mobilization on May 15, 2016.

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, coordinated by the Global Network of People living with HIV is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. Started in 1983, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May. On Sunday, 15th of May, 2016 is the 33rd International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, and this year’s theme is “Engage, Educate, Empower.”

Attended by the members of the Valencia City AIDS Council together with the stakeholders and the employees of the city government, at 6:00pm, the celebration started with a moment of silence-a short prayer at the intersection of Sayre Highway and G. Laviña Avenue, Valencia City. The prayer was centered on the remembrance of the people who have lost their lives to AIDS. A short program was then held at the Old Terminal.

Dr. Rachel P. Alegata, Medical Director of Bukidnon Community Health Care Center in her welcome address she said that International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is a very significant event as it helps raise HIV awareness. She also thanked the City Government of Valencia for partnering with Bukidnon Community Health Care Center in addressing STI, HIV cases in the city.

Meanwhile, Mr. Michael Jesus Mahinay of ALAGAD Mindanao gave the rationale of the activity. He said that the Philippines is among the 115 countries around the world who celebrates the AIDS Cadlelight Memorial to raise HIV/AIDS awareness. Mr. Mahinay emphasized the theme, “Engage, Educate and Empower.”

“The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. The theme emphasizes the need for people living with HIV (PLHIV) to join hands and work together in the response to help create awareness: To engage people, communities, governments especially LGUs and stakeholders in ending the epidemic, to educate the current and next generation about HIV, treatment and prevention, and how it affects our lives, and lastly to empower people living with HIV to stand up for their right to live a life free of stigma and discrimination,” Mr. Mahinay said.

The United Gay Association of Valencia (UGAV) who partners with Valencia City AIDS Council and (Kaabag Valencia AIDS Prevention and Control Advocates) KAVAPCA actively participates the celebration and gave an Intermission Number.

Mr. Abe P. Gillaco, MPA, HRMO of Valencia City who represented the City Mayor Hon. Azucena P. Huervas, the Chairperson of Valencia City AIDS Council, in his message he said that the celebration targets to create consciousness among constituents.

“The City Government of Valencia aims to create HIV/AIDS awareness and the AIDS Candlelight Memorial is an important intervention for global unity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination,” Mr. Gillaco added.

Dr. Marlyn V. Agbayani, Valencia City Health Officer, in her closing remarks, she thanked the participants, the stakeholders and the partners for gracing the activity. She also said that the City Government of Valencia through the City Health Office continues to raise HIV/AIDS awareness by partnering with German Doctors, National Offices, Schools, Media Partners and NGOs.

Valencia City AIDS Council annually spearheads the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial which is celebrated every third Sunday of May.