HIV-AIDS campaign evolving to target youth

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MAKATI City, Sept 5, 2012?In what seems to be a timely response to the recent trend of more HIV cases involving young people, the Philippine Catholic HIV and AIDS Network (PhilCHAN) launches an HIV-AIDS campaign targeting the youth.

“The HIV campaign is shaping into a ‘youth campaign’,” Josephine Ignacio, the HIV and AIDS Program Coordinator of NASSA (National Secretariat for Social Action) said in an interview.

The group’s youth-directed “0% FEAR | 100% LOVE” campaign aims to encourage young people to talk about the reality of HIV-AIDS with peers and family members, specifically to eliminate the stigma and rejection associated with those affected by the virus.

PhilCHAN, which has around 44 member-organizations, is currently working on visual materials like posters that will appeal to the 15-24 year old age bracket, the youth segment that accounted for 27% of HIV cases as of June 2012.

The suggestion to come out with materials that speak the language of young people came from the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY), one of the newest members of the network.

ECY, Pro-Life Philippines and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), all members of PhilCHAN, are working on the visual materials that will be similar to the “I got tested because I love you” posters that targeted married people and couples preparing to get married.

Ignacio recalled how effective the previous campaign was with a good number of people contacting the network to know more about HIV-AIDS because they saw the posters in LRT stations or in their parishes.

“What the Church is saying is: Speak up! Talk about the virus because even the members of your family, your circle of friends are not safe from it. The virus spreads as we keep silent about it,” Ignacio, who was part of the core group that started PhilCHAN in 2009, explained.

Regional coordinator of Southeast Asia HIV and AIDS Catholic Network Fr. Dan Cancino also said during a recent HIV-AIDS training for the clergy and members of the religious, getting rid of the stigma of talking about sex and HIV-AIDS is crucial to the campaign.

Recent statistics from the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health estimates there are 9 new HIV cases everyday in the country.

Out of those 9 cases 2.4 will involve young people. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]



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