The Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) has brought its stepped-up human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) awareness drive in El Nido town to address potential complacency due to lack of knowledge and the rising trend in new infections.
The HIV/AIDS forum, which was part of the Women’s Month and El Nido’s 103rd Foundation Day celebrations, was attended by around 2,000 residents of the municipality.
PSFI volunteer Romeo T. Abala, Jr. said it is their advocacy to spread information about HIV/AIDS that can bust myths or false beliefs that make patients fear seeking treatment and to prevent new cases of infection.
“It’s part of our advocacy, PSFI wants to promote HIV/AIDS awareness not only in Puerto Princesa but all over Palawan. So, now we want to reach the municipalities for information dissemination regarding HIV/AIDS para mabigyan ng kaalaman ‘yong mga wala pang alam at para mabawasan ‘yong mga hindi pa aware tungkol sa sakit na ito,” he said.
Abala added they are steadfast in the campaign and wants to encourage every Palaweño to get tested to know their status so they could seek treatment at the community service center along Abad Santo Street.
He said their awareness campaign also targets to help remove the stigma and discrimination that marginalizes people living with HIV or PLHIV
Abala said myths and misinformation increase the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Meanwhile, El Nido mayor Nieves Rosento said during her speech in the program that they are grateful to PSFI as a partner not only in community development but in taking care of the health of their residents.
“Salamat sa mga foundation like PSFI na nais tumulong sa atin. Para naman ito sa lahat, para sa atin. Kasi kung may pangarap tayo para sa bayan natin dapat meron din tayong pagkilos kasi kung meron tayong pangarap ngunit wala tayong pagkilos wala ding mangyayari,” she said.
Rosento said fighting HIV/AIDS in El Nido is also a health priority of the municipal government, especially because it is a tourism destination that must also take care of the welfare of its visitors while they are on vacation.
Local knowledge about the virus that causes the syndrome is important in order for people to be also self-reliant when it comes to their health.