DOH holds LGBTQ Congress on HIV/AIDS

CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur – The Department of Health (DOH) in the Ilocos marked the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial through an LGBTQ Congress on HIV/AIDS held at the Civic Center here on May 22, 2018.

David Zaragoza, DOH health education and promotion officer in the Ilocos, said the activity aims to further raise awareness of the public about the importance of practicing safe sex and knowing their status through HIV testing.

“We hope that through this congress, we’ll be able to organize a support group among LGBTQ members who will help the DOH to educate the community, reduce the HIV stigma in the Philippines and eliminate discrimination among people living with HIV,” he said.

Part of the LGBTQ Congress is the conduct of free HIV counseling and testing to know one’s HIV status and those with reactive results will be referred to HIV treatment hubs to access treatment and management of HIV-related illnesses.

Irene Madonna Almeida, development management officer of DOH in the Ilocos, urged participants to get tested to know their status.

She said that there is no cure for AIDS but like other diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, deaths can be averted with treatment.

Meanwhile, Dr. Maeflor Ofilas, medical specialist at Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, urged the practice of ABCDE to prevent contacting HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

“ABCDE stands for Abstinence, Be mutually faithful, Careful sex (correct and consistent use of condom), D is for Don’t do drugs/Don’t share needles in syringes and E for Education,” she said.

Following the ABCDE would greatly help in reducing the risk of an individual to the disease, she added.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system which causes AIDS or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome which makes the afflicted individual more susceptible to other life-threatening conditions which normally would have been protected by a healthy immune system. (PIA-1, Ilocos Sur)