By Gere Ang (Class 2022)
In recognition of the 30th World Aids Day, EmpoweRED, an annual HIV and AIDS Awareness Talk, was held last 5 December 2018 in CH 222 of Calderon Hall of the UP College of Medicine. Organized by the UP Medicine Student Council (MSC), Medical Students for Social Responsibility-IPPNW (MSSR-IPPNW), One’s True Nature (OTN), and the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority, this was done as the second installment of a week-long celebration of activities of HIV Week 2018, tagged #KnowYourStatus.
The talks revolved around the basic data and science behind HIV as well as breaking the stigma against it.
Striking into the basics of HIV was the first speaker, Dr. Kate Leyritana, the medical director of Sustainable Health Initiatives of the Philippines, who opened the eyes of the audience with the first main focus of the talk as well as the common misconceptions surrounding the condition.
Following her was the advocacy of breaking the stigma by Mr. Kahel Sta. Maria, the head life coach of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) from Love Yourself Inc., who forwarded his cause by expounding on the personal struggles of PLHIV including their emotional and social journeys, showing PLHIV as they areーhumans.
As one of the event heads Czarina Baptisma (Class 2022) aptly put in an encompassing answer to the question, “What was your biggest learning from the talk?”:
“More than facts, more than figures, the biggest learning that we can get out of advocacies and campaigns such as this one is learning of and from the people. … my biggest takeaways aren’t the facts and figures mentioned, but the spirit, the passion of all of our speakers, and the look of awe from our audience whenever they hear of things they haven’t heard before or whenever the misconceptions they’ve had have been corrected.
“It is our utmost duty, as future physicians, to protect all aspects of living of our patients, and this includes the psychosocial factors affecting patients living with HIV and AIDS, or any disease for that matter, hence the importance of our role in the HIV/AIDS advocacy.
“We have come a long way from when the first case of AIDS was documented in 1981. But we, undoubtedly, still have a long way to go in ending the stigma against HIV/AIDS and the people living with it.”
This event is co-presented by Love Yourself Inc., and was done in partnership with the UP College of Nursing Student Council, Sigma Delta Pi Sorority, UP Medical Students’ Society, Industrial Pharmacy Honors Society, Sibol PH, and UP Medics.
Photo credits to Kahel Sta. Maria.