Breaking the Stigma: National Forum on HIV and AIDS 2024

Posted On March 15, 2024

Mar 15, 2024 | BEA NEWS

Breaking the Stigma: National Forum on HIV and AIDS 2024

The Wesleyan University- Philippines, in collaboration with the Center for Health and Hope, Wesleyan University- Philippines Hospital, John Wesley Academy, and Critical Thinking Center, along with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, organized a forum titled “Empowering Lives: Bridging Hope through Compassionate Care (Engaging in HIV and AIDS Prevention, Care, and Treatment)” on March 14-15, 2024, held at the JJDG Auditorium and the University Chapel. The forum welcomed participants such as Healthcare providers, College Students of WUP, Church Workers, and Lay Members from BEA, MEA, and DEA.

During the event, a dedicated HIV & AIDS HUB was established at the University, led by the University Chaplain, Rev. Francis V. Fajardo. Additionally, blood screening for HIV was offered to interested individuals.

The lecturers at the forum were Healthcare providers who shared insights on HIV prevention, care, and treatment. Furthermore, leaders from the Board of Women’s Work (BWW) discussed the ministries they undertake for individuals living with HIV.

The BWW, in collaboration with the APWAI, has implemented various programs to raise awareness about HIV, including:

  • Awareness-raising campaigns/Education (Basic Orientation on HIV and AIDS, Voluntary Counseling and Testing)
  • Capacity Building (Seminar on Gender, Sexuality and HIV, Community Exposure, Training of Trainers on HIV and SAVE Approach)
  • Care and Treatment Support (Assistance to PMTCT- Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission, Assistance to PhilHealth payments, Other Medical Assistance)
  • Counseling & Spiritual Nourishment for WLHIVs, their Children, and their Affected Families & Communities (Lost to Follow-up, Counseling for New Patients, Fellowships & Spiritual Retreats)
  • MIPA (Meaningful Involvement of People Living with HIV)
  • Referrals
  • Advocacy Work, Solidarity, Networking & Linkages
  • Research and Publication

The BWW continues to provide these impactful programs for PLHIV. However, despite efforts to raise awareness, combating stigma and discrimination remains a significant challenge for PLHIV.

During the forum, Donald Messer, Executive Director of the Center for Health & Hope, expressed, “Sometimes, I say, we have two problems: AIDS and AFRAIDS. HIV & AIDS is the medical issue. But AFRAIDS is what many of us face and is what many people in the world face.”

Let us come together to build a community that practices love and compassionate care for all, including those living with HIV. Instead of letting our fears dictate our actions, let us open our hearts, minds, and hands to those who need our support the most. For as according to Resolutions #3242, Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 

“The United Methodist Church unequivocally condemns stigmatization and discrimination of persons with HIV and AIDS and violence perpetrated against persons who are or are presumed to be infected with HIV. The United Methodist Church advocates the full involvement of the church at all levels to be in ministry with and to respond fully to the needs of, persons, families, and communities whose lives have been affected by HIV and AIDS. In keeping with our faith in the risen Christ, we confess our belief that God has received those who have died, that the wounds of living loved ones will be healed, and that Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is present among us as we strive to exemplify what it means to be bearers of Christ’s name in the midst of the global HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

Written by April Grace Martinez

April is a Communicator Correspondent in Northeast Philippines Annual Conference

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