EDITORIAL| Beating the stigma of HiV/AIDS

CONSIDER this: In yesterday’s region-wide HIV/AIDS summit, Department of Health regional director Dr. Abdullah B. Dumama Jr. said that on the national, level at least 22 HIV cases are reported daily.

In the Davao Region, from January to June 2015, 240 cases were reported. This translates to about 40 cases per month. Of these cases, 180 of the 240 are from Davao City. As to age, the most affected in the population are those who are in the 25 to 34 year-old age bracket.

This is the age when young people are starting their career or rising into higher positions in their profession. The time when they are very productive and the world is at their feet, so to speak, for them to discover and explore.

Health organizations have not been remiss in their education and information efforts. Yet, this may not be enough. There are still many myths surrounding the pandemic, fueled by the narrow mindedness of some people. Instead of talking about the mode of transmission and the importance of voluntary HIV testing for those who are vulnerable or in high risk situations, people take a very cavalier attitude. They do not believe it could happen to them.

In a previous interview, Alma Mondragon, executive director of Alagad-Mindanao, a non-government organization, looks at AIDS in a larger context. She said that “surpassing these numbers is a social context, gender and class inequity that put women, children, lesbians and male homosexuals in more vulnerable circumstances.”

The stigma attached to HIV/AIDS is difficult to beat. Discrimination erodes the effort to prevent the spread of the disease and in caring for those who are infected. But there is reason to hope that once people start opening their minds and hearts through proper and sustained education, HIV/AIDS can be licked, slowly but surely.

Posted in Opinion