The Olympus Society of Davao (OSD) and the City Government of Davao, through the Davao City AIDS Council and various advocates, will spearhead the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 19, 2023.

The event will be a solemn gathering aimed at shedding light on the pervasive stigma and self-stigma experienced by people living with HIV.

OSD chairperson Oscar Obenza Jr., during the ISpeak media forum held at the Davao City Hall conference room Thursday, May 18, said: “We aim to commemorate and remember those people who died because of the HIV infection.”

He said the event will be a two-part program. The first part will be the advocacy where they will introduce different organizations involved in HIV awareness campaigns.

“Hindi nag-iisa si RHWC (The Reproductive Health and Wellness Center is not alone) in increasing awareness about HIV/AIDS,” Obenza said, citing that aside from OSD, the Higala Community Center under the LGBT Coalition of Davao and the Dayaw Community Center are also intensifying their HIV/AIDS education awareness activities.

A spoken poetry contest among youth attendees will also take center stage during the gathering.

At 6 p.m., the candlelight memorial will commence, with the presence of city government officials expected to grace the event. He added, “
The main thought of the candle lighting is to bring some light and hope
for people with HIV.”

Free HIV testing, treatment, and counseling services will also be available during the event.

The event seeks to address both external stigma and the self-stigma experienced by those living with HIV, aiming to combat negative language surrounding HIV transmission and dispel misconceptions. By doing so, the organizers aspire to end the long-standing stigma barriers and discrimination, hindering HIV prevention and treatment efforts.

With the theme “Spread Love and Solidarity to Build Stronger Communities,” the 2023 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial aims to raise awareness about the challenges faced by individuals living with HIV due to persistent discrimination and stigmatization. This often results in feelings of shame, self-doubt, and isolation, hindering their ability to seek the necessary care and support.

Alagad-Mindanao executive director Michael Jesus Mahinay, meanwhile, said they will hold a Liturgy late afternoon on Sunday, May 21, during the worldwide AIDS commemoration day at the Marfori Subdivision Community Park where they will honor the stakeholders who have contributed greatly to the HIV/AIDS awareness education campaign. CIO