The Project Red Ribbon called for the engagement of the youth in its observance of the World AIDS Day 2014. In an event themed “Engaging the Youth in Getting to Zero”, the organization of people living with HIV (PLHIV) highlighted the need to “get to zero” – that is, zero new HIV case, zero mortality due to AIDS, and zero discrimination and stigma.
The December 7th event started with the AIDS Walk Philippines, a walkathon fundraiser that raised money to combat the AIDS epidemic; a commemoration service for those whose lives were cut short by the still-dreaded disease; and then by a commitment ceremony for the WAD 2014 attendees.
Earlier, Pozzie Pinoy, who helms Project Red Ribbon, said that it is a great struggle for the youth, especially teenagers, to have HIV in the Philippines, where stigma and discrimination coming from families and the society is a big obstacle to acceptance and treatment. The youth face eviction from their families, inability to support their HIV treatment on their own, and concerns on employment that most often lead to late diagnosis of opportunistic infections, non-adherence to antiretroviral therapy, and even suicide.”
For Rev. Fr. Myke Sotero, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church-Metropolitan Baguio (MCC-MB), there is a need to dissociate HIV with being gay. “We are trying to eliminate the mindset of the society that HIV has something to do with gayness – that it is a way that God cursed and penalized (people) due to practicing homosexuality,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Rossana Ditangco, head of RITM AIDS Research Group, called for better education as far as HIV is concerned, and that the educating should start at home. “To all parents, please accept if your sons/daughters happened to like (someone) with same sex,” she said. “Education starts at home. Don’t let your sons/daughters talk to others; instead communicate with them with love and acceptance.”
For this year’s Project Red Ribbon gathering, select celebrities joined the affair, including Lance Raymundo, Jonalyn Viray, Aljur Abrenica, Chicser , John Lapus, and Enzo Pineda, among others.