In observance of the World AIDS Day (WAD) 2014 in the Philippines, The Red Ribbon Project (TRR) will have events not only for a day but an entire week, aiming to increase HIV and AIDS awareness by involving a group of HIV-positive volunteers and HIV community advocates. WAD 2014 will be held on December 7 at the Liwasang Aurora in Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City.
Themed “Engaging the Youth in Getting to Zero”, this year’s WAD observance highlights the need to focus on the youth to curb the spread of HIV in the country. Statistics back this, showing that the youth is the most impacted population by HIV and AIDS in the Philippines. The latest HIV and AIDS Registry of the Department of Health-National Epidemiology Center for September 2014 showed that the biggest number of cases belongs to the 20-29 age group. TRR, nonetheless, has been handling cases even in the age range of 14-20 for the past three years.
“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,” said Pozzie Pinoy, president and chairman of TRR. “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.”
Pozzie Pinoy, however, believes that “the challenge can be placed on the youth. They all need to be empowered about HIV awareness, particularly about prevention and about HIV testing. They all need to be given an opportunity to step up and raise their voices together with HIV advocates and the people living with HIV (PLHIV) community.”
The December 7th event will start with the AIDS Walk Philippines, a commemoration service for those whose lives were cut short by the still-dreaded disease. It will be followed by commitment ceremonies for all those who will be attending WAD 2014.
For Pozzie Pinoy, TRR’s commitment to it’s advocacy doesn’t end with the observance of WAD. “We are not here only to provide care management to the PLHIV community, but we are committed to align our mission with (serving) all Filipinos, believing that HIV is not a concern of only the at-risk populations but of everyone all over the country.”