In line with the celebration of the 26th World AIDS Day, the School of Nursing (SoN) in partnership with the University Community Engagement And Advocacy Council (UCEAC), Buklod Atenista, and the Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy (APILA) conducted an HIV/AIDS awareness forum last December 1 at the Finster Auditorium.
In his opening remarks, Atty. Romeo Cabarde, Jr. shared the status of HIV/AIDS infection around the globe. Cabarde added that in Davao City, the rate of increase of infection is now described to be ‘fast and furious’.
“More particularly, Davao City ranks second to Metro Manila with MSM (Males Who Have Sex With Males) unprotected sex as the primary means of transmission, affecting largely the young people, 15-24 years old,” Cabarde explained.
Patrick D. Albit, RN educated the participants by discussing what HIV/AIDS is all about, its signs and symptoms, the methods of prevention, and treatment in cases when a person is infected by the virus.
Albit emphasized the importance of sharing the knowledge about HIV/AIDS and its prevention.
On the issue of discrimination
Cabarde stressed that misconceptions about HIV/AIDS resulted to discrimination among those who are infected by it thus led to the enactment of RA 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.
The law provides rights to people living and affected with HIV/AIDS. Among these rights are the right to privacy, right to confidentiality, freedom from discrimination, and freedom from compulsory testing.
“Today, HIV testing remains to be voluntary in the country. Therefore, no one should be compelled to submit to testing as a requirement for admission or employment,” Cabarde concluded.
Where to seek for help?
Ma. Nelia Ruta RN, MN, Community Extension and Advocacy Head said that the School of Nursing welcomes anybody who would like to ask anything regarding HIV and anybody who needs counselling.
Ruta also said that they can also refer students who need help to the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC), to some HIV support groups, and to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC). Ruta added that the test for HIV/AIDS is free of charge.
They can visit the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) at E. Jacinto St., Davao City, or call them at 222-4187. They can also visit their Facebook page, RHWC Ingat Lagi, for more information.