By Queeni Caay/UM Intern

THE OLYMPUS Society of Davao will mark the annual candle-lighting ceremony to remember people who died from HIV and AIDS on May 19 at Rizal Park by strengthening its advocacy to arrest the infections.

During the ISpeak media conference on Thursday at the Municipal Hall, Olympus chairperson Oscar Obenza Jr. said they need to strengthen their campaign during to the rising number of people living with HIV. 

This year’s activity, with the theme, “Spread love and unity to build stronger communities,” will have two parts. 

The first part starts at 3 pm, showcasing different services from community-based organizations such as the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC), DAYAW community center, and HIGALA community center, led by the LGBT-Q community. it will be followed by the candlelight memorial at 6 pm.

“We’re also going to highlight the care program that we have because HIV is not only a medical issue, it’s also a human rights issue. So, meron din tayong (we have) direct programs that will cover human rights violations na pwedeng lapitan (programs that people can access)for those kinds of cases,” Obenza added.

The Olympus Society urged DavaoeƱos to attend as there is free testing and a spoken poetry competition about HIV awareness. 

“This is an opportunity actually, not only for the City Health Office but for all of us who are HIV advocates. If you have a friend, a brother or a sister or relatives and neighbors who died of HIV, this is the time for us to remember them. This is also the time where we want to eradicate the stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV,” Priscilla Senoc, City Information Office health and education promotion officer, said.

Since 2015, the Olympus Society has partnered with the city government and the Davao City AIDS Council to end the stigma and bolster efforts to give easy access to those seeking free testing and treatment.

Source: Mindanao Times (