MANILA, Dec. 3, 2011— A liturgical service to mark the first Catholic AIDS Sunday will be held at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on December 4.
The service also seeks to lift up the church’s commitment to working on behalf of people with AIDS, especially in Metro Manila.
The first Sunday of December was declared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), during its plenary assembly last July, as the Catholic AIDS Sunday.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), said the celebration also seeks to further guide the people in responding to AIDS epidemic.
“National Aids Sunday aims to make all of us aware of the serious menace of HIV-AIDS. This menace can only be averted if we appreciate the gift of life and love that the Lord gives us and live respecting the sacredness of life and sex,” he said.
Nassa is leading the CBCP’s campaign against HIV/AIDS.
This year’s theme dubbed as “Getting to Zero: Be true. Stay true.” is aligned with the United Nations’ global movement against AIDS.
The national campaign, to be launched at the UST, would also set a standard for the other regions and dioceses in the succeeding National AIDS Sunday celebrations.
“Respecting the sacredness of life also means acceptance without bias of those who are already living with this virus. Their life too is valuable and sacred. They, too, deserve a dignified life with the help of all,” said Pabillo who also the bishop-advisor of the Philippine Catholic HIV and AIDS Network (PhilCHAN).
The bishop also called on for the support of the youth and their families in the National AIDS Sunday by wearing red “which means courage to battle the stigma.”
The gathering will also have a symbolic formation of a giant human AIDS ribbon.
The Philippines, juxtaposed with the decreasing global trend, is already one of the seven countries in the world with steadily increasing cases of HIV/AIDS.
A total of 7,431 cases have been reported in the Philippines since 1984. From these, 1,416 were registered from January to August this year.
An alarming 30 percent of this year’s HIV/AIDS cases are from the 15-24 age group and 55 percent are from Metro Manila. [Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews]