DOH beefs up campaign vs HIV

The Department of Health (DOH) has launched a new campaign aimed at helping reduce the numberof new human immunodeficiency virus cases in the country and encouraging people living with HIV to continue their treatment.

Entitled LHIVE FREE, the agency launched the said campaign along with Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza amid the continuous increase of HIV cases.

“We cannot change nor deny the fact that HIV and AIDS cases continue to rise,” said Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.

“The best we can do to fight HIV/AIDS and its effects is to use sound methods that address multiple issues tied with it—including lack of access to significant information and the negative stigma attached to it—in the most effective manner through social media and other tools necessary to reach people. We believe that with Ms. Kylie Versoza and this new approach we are taking, we will be able to do that,” the health chief explained.

During the launch on August 4, the DOH called upon individuals who would like to join a three-way search that will determine their next set of HIV/AIDS advocacy ambassadors.

“The LHIVE FREE Redvocates is a search for exemplary individuals who are willing to be champions of this campaign. Just like Ms. Versoza, they will help spread information about HIV and AIDS and promote safe sex with the goal of preventing new cases,” added Duque.

As a three-way pageant, men, women and transgender women are free to join LHIVE FREE Redvocates.

It is open to individuals aged 20 to 26 years old who have good communication skills and are passionate about the campaign’s cause. The final pageant night will take place on September 28 wherein three winners will be crowned.

The said winners will each take home cash prizes and join the DOH and Versoza in a series of promotional activities that will dispel wrong information and negative stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, as well as bring help to people living with HIV.

“We have so much work to do. As we speak, HIV cases continue to rise and the worst part is, many of the cases are among individuals who are afraid to get themselves tested. We are starting by providing everyone with correct information about the virus. We want people to stop being afraid to get tested. There is hope, and there is a very big chance to live a normal life even if you are HIV positive. There are solutions that the government is making available for everyone,” concluded Duque.

In the last 10 years, the average number of new HIV cases in the Philippines has grown from one per day to 31 per day.  In addition, the country has the highest percent of increase of new HIV cases in the Asia and Pacific region from 2010 to 2016, at 133 percent.

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Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco is a grant recipient and fellow of 2017 media fellowship program by Probe Media Foundation Inc. She is a graduate of Bachelor of Mass Communication from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). After graduating in 2000 she immediately worked as a newspaper correspondent for Today Newspaper until 2005. Within those five years in Today Newspaper, she was assigned to cover the Eastern Police and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Rizal Province, and the Departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Tourism (DOT). In October of 2005, she became a correspondent for the Philippine Business Daily Mirror Publishing, Inc. She covers Health, Education, MMDA, the local government units in the eastern and southern portions of the metropolis, and Rizal Province.

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