Candles lit in support of AIDS patients

05/17/10 - He was hospitalized for pneumonia when he was still 18.

But this male patient later learned that he tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

“I was depressed emotionally and psychologically. Nagbasol ko (I was filled with regret),” said Gary (not his real name) who is now 21 years old.

Gary was among those who attended the 27th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial held at the Zapatera Elementary School in Cebu City yesterday.

The theme of the candlelighting event was “Many lights for human rights.”

Myrna Alaba, a member of the Cebu City Multi-sectoral AIDS Council, said the annual gathering was intended to uplift the spirits of those who suffered from AIDS.

“(We need) to support those who are infected with AIDS and commemorate those who died of AIDS,” Alaba explained.

Based on data from the Cebu City Health Department, 107 individuals tested positive for HIV from January to May 2010.

Alaba described the figure as alarming since the city health department had previously noted 105 cases of AIDS from 1989 to 2009.

“We urge that abstinence be made until marriage. Married people should also make themselves available to their partner only,” Alaba said.

The health department, however, decided to distribute condoms to the “sexually active” who have a hard time sticking to one partner, Alaba revealed.

“You can't say no to them but we have to conduct counselling. Condoms are used to prevent AIDS,” she said.


The Catholic Church has strongly opposed the distribution of condoms and other artificial contraceptives.

The Archdiocese of Cebu repeatedly stated that condoms would encourage people to be “irresponsible.”

The church also frowns on premarital sex and the failure of some in its flock to control carnal desires.

Yet Alaba said condoms are effective in stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS if used in the “right and consistent way.”

Yesterday’s event ended with a candle lighting ceremony.

According to its official website, www.candlelightmemorial.org, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial “is the largest and oldest grassroots mobilization campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness in the world.”

The lighting is a program of the Global Health Council, a US-based nonprofit organization created in 1972 to identify priority world health problems and to report on them.

AIDS is a group of diseases that afflict someone who has contracted HIV, the virus that weakens the human body’s disease-fighting system.

Most patients get HIV through sexual relations or sharing needles with an infected person,being born when the mother is infected, or drinking milk from an infected woman. (CDN)

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