Red Cross joins World AIDS Day observance, launches workplace policy

On December 1, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will join the observance of "World AIDS Day 2016" (WAD) with a symposium on HIV/AIDS, to be held from 3-5 PM at the PRC Multipurpose Hall, 2nd Floor of PRC Tower, Mandaluyong City. WAD is celebrated annually every 1st of December to remember those who died because of the disease, show support for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) and to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention. With this year's theme, "Hands Up for #HIVPREVENTION",the PRC will conduct a dissemination drive on HIV/AIDS and on how to prevent the disease among PRC employees. The said symposium is also open for the public who may want to learn more about the disease. The activity will also serve as avenue to launch PRC's "Workplace Policy" which aims to ensure that PLHIV's rights are protected across the PRC workplace. The policy will also emphasize the process that the PRC will follow in terms of scope and responsibility to protect PLHIVs from discrimination, recruitment and screening processes, code of conduct, reporting procedures, risk management and right definition of terms about HIV/AIDS. "This Workplace Policy aims to keep a continuous approach to the prevention of HIV/AIDS among PRC employees and their families, as well as to impart knowledge and information on how to provide care and support of employees and any and all persons involved in all PRC projects, programs and operations who are living with HIV/AIDS," said PRC Chairman Richard Gordon. All PRC chapters nationwide lined up different activities and events in observance of WAD such as dissemination, parade, balloon flying and candle lighting, masquerade, and HIV testing and counselling. AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) is a pandemic disease caused by an infection to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).According to the 2016 data from UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS), roughly 78 Million people have become infected with HIV, and a total of 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic globally. In the Philippines, as of June 2016, a total of 34,999 cases were recorded since the first case of HIV was diagnosed in January 1984. Of the total number of cases, 83% were reported from January 2011 to June 2016. The Department of Health (DOH) also reports that 26 individuals are estimated to be newly diagnosed with HIV per day. In response to this, the PRC has been conducting awareness campaigns and advocacies to halt not only the spread of the disease itself but as well as the stigma and discrimination attached to PLHIVs among communities, most especially in workplaces. To further PRC's advocacy against the spread of HIV/AIDS, Red Cross 143 volunteers will be continuously mobilized in different communities to disseminate information about HIV/AIDS and distribute condoms to promote safe sex. Counselling will also be conducted to those affected individuals to help uplift their dignities. Also part of PRC's awareness campaign for the observance of WAD 2016 is to reach the target of 15,000 participants who will raise their hands in support of HIV/AIDS infected individuals. The PRC is urging everyone to support WAD 2016 by taking a photo with their hands raised and post it on their social media accounts. Participants may use the hashtag #HIVPREVENTION and tag @phredcross for Facebook and @philredcross for Twitter and Instagram.

Source: Philippine Information Agency