(File photo)

The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa will launch a program to reach to persons living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and depression on February 13.

Coordinator Rev. Fr. Eugene Elivera said Thursday that the Catholic Church’s advocacy aims to eliminate discrimination and stigma against people living with HIV and those undergoing depressive disorder.

“The church will reach out to those people to provide them support, especially those who feel that they are discriminated because of the stigma attached to their health condition. We will reach out to their families to support them fully because they have tasks and responsibilities on their loved ones so they won’t feel neglected. We also want to campaign for awareness about the HIV and mental depression,” he said.

Elivera said the public’s support is important in ensuring that people living with HIV or depression are not subjected to shame or disgrace because they are marked as different.

He pointed out that the existing stigma against someone living with depression and HIV drives him/her away more from seeking treatment which could lead to suffering in silence and damage their mental health.

 “You could hardly talk about suicide if you have it as your personal problem. For example, somebody died because of suicide, it’s taboo to talk about which makes it hard for the social problem to be addressed properly,” he said.

Elivera also lamented the lack of needed medical services in Palawan where mental health problems are a concern.

He said further that the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa is now communicating with its Manila counterpart to help in providing mental health support.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.