In line with the advocacy to strengthen the mobilization campaign on HIV awareness to end discrimination, thousands joined the 2019 TB-HIV-AIDS Summit held in Bacoor City on October 18-19, 2019. Carrying the theme “Glow Up! Stop the Stigma, Fight AIDS,” the two-day event focused on raising social consciousness on HIV and how the community can make a difference with unified actions from different sectors of society – health, education, media, non-governmental organizations and more.

As host to the summit, Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado welcomed participants with her message of hope and support to the health and rights of people living with HIV. Likewise, Dr. Gregorio “Jojo” Andaman Jr., President of St. Dominic College of Asia where the second day of event was held, gave his warm welcome together with City Councilor Alde Pagulayan of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Health. Councilor Pagulayan initiated the conduct of the event to help address the alarming health issues in relation to HIV in the province. He also acknowledged the presence of guests and resource speakers who will contribute insights, information as well as inspiration to help fight the stigma.

On behalf of Governor Jonvic Remulla and Vice Governor Jolo Revilla, 6th District Board Member Kerby Salazar lauded the efforts of everyone behind the success of the advocacy event and sincerely appreciated the efforts of the City of Bacoor for being the first LGU in the province to join the LGBT+ in fighting for their cause. As Chairperson of the Committee on Health, the young legislator highlighted that now is the time to actively fight for the LGBT rights and represent their voice. BM Salazar also took the opportunity to invite participants to the 1st Cavite Gay Pride March happening on Nov 29, 2019 at the provincial capitol grounds in Trece Martires City.

Mostly the youth, students and members of the LGBT group in the province were educated during the session proper, learning the basic concepts of HIV and AIDS from program directors and counselors of the Department of Health, including how to prevent HIV transmission, getting tested, starting treatment, and living a healthy life with HIV.

On the other hand, Cavite LGBT+ Alliance Coordinator Ivan James Fermanejo talked about Stigma and Discrimination on people living with AIDS and how it seriously affects the health and wellbeing of the individual and the family. Mr. Fermanejo underscored how lack of awareness, myths, and misinformation can worsen the stigma and discrimination.

Other resource persons from the Philippine National AIDS Council, the Regional HIV Coordinator, San Lazaro Hospital HIV/Family Counselor and the LGBT Pilipinas Partylist provided timely, relevant and sufficient information to educate participants on Gender, Sex and Sexuality, giving human rights approach to the best interest of public health. These included lectures and discussion on the new strategies in preventing HIV/AIDS; service delivery in CALABARZON for PLHIV Clients; provisions of the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression Equality) Bill also known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill; and the Republic Act 11166, otherwise known as the “Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act; plus the role of media in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Testimonials from those affected with the disease enlightened and touched the hearts of participants, while in order to encourage interaction and further understanding, a panel discussion was moderated by the Provincial Health Office STI/HIV/AIDS Coordinator Haydeliza Maderazo. The panelists include Dr. Gloria Hernandez of the Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Memorial Hospital (GEAMH), Dr. Michael Angelo Marquez of Bacoor Social Hygienic Clinic, Dr. Ferdinand Mina of Imus and Dr. Soledad Mendiola of Dasmariñas.

The event concluded with the pledge of support and awarding of certificates to guests and participants.