With the theme “In Solidarity”, the City Government of Tacurong commemorated the 30thInternational AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM) during its Monday flag ceremony on May 20, 2013.

Marlow Buenacosa, head of the City Environmental Health and Sanitation Section (CEHSS) spearheaded the short program which included the candle-lighting ceremony and a prayer for individuals and families affected by HIV-AIDS.

The Social Hygiene Clinic and Wellness Center under of the CEHSS supports the aim of the government to minimize and stop the fast- range cases of the HIV- AIDS particularly in the city. CEHSS conduct information and education campaign to increase citizens’ awareness on the disease. Health workers facilitate lectures and forum on AIDS during Food Handlers Classes and post information materials in various places in the city. CEHSS also conduct regular vaginal smearing for sex workers and weekly pre-marriage counseling to minimize sexually-transmitted diseases.

As of March 2013, 370 new cases of HIV-AIDS were confirmed in the country. This number is 18% higher than the reported cases in 2012 making the Philippines one of the nine countries with the fastest acceleration of HIV cases. Also as of March 2013, 60 cases of HIV-AIDS were recorded in Region XII.

The Philippine memorial of the global awareness day was actually on May 19 (Sunday) and is initiated by the Philippine National AIDS Council. IACM began in 1983 and it is one of the world’s oldest campaign programs for HIV Awareness.

Lemuel Bravante (SPES-Tacurong)