Dumaguete City has joined the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day with dozens of medical practitioners, health workers, and advocates who gathered for awareness and showed support for persons living with HIV-AIDS in the city.

The mass gathering aimed to reflect on the pandemic, commemorate those who have died of the disease, and honor those who care for them on May 27 at Manuel Quezon Park in Dumaguete City.

City Health Officer Dr. Maria Sarah Talla said the lighted candles will help the participants remember their loved ones or friends whose lives were cut short by AIDS and honor those who devoted time to care for people living with HIV.

It is also a tribute for those who continue to fight stigma and discrimination and those who help create conducive environment whereby people living with HIV can live in dignity and make positive contribution towards society.

Talla also commended Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, chairperson of the City HIV/AIDS Council, for providing funding to maintain the City HIV/AIDS Treatment hub, Social Hygiene Clinic, and train volunteers who could help in the prevention and xontrol of the disease.

The City HIV/AIDS Council aims to engage people, government agencies, and civil society groups so they could contribute to break all barriers of stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and give hope to the new generation so that they will live in a world free from HIV.

As of February 2022, records show the total reported cases of 96,626 Filipinos who are living with HIV since January 1984.

The number of diagnosed HIV cases have been increasing from one per day in 2008 to 33 per day in 2022.

HIV, AIDS, and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) reported there were 1,054 newly diagnosed HIV cases and 50% (528) of these belong to 25 to 34 year-old range while 30% (311) belong to the 15 to 24 year-old range at the time of testing.

The theme of the 2022 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day “Keeping the light, honoring our rights, radiating pride” serves as a platform for unity of various groups to raise awareness on the different HIV programs in the city and civil society organizations geared towards the commitment to the advocacy of eliminating HIV-AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.