Honor the memories of the dead by keeping the light of solidarity and hope

(International AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2022)

This year’s International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM) is themed “Honor the Memories of the Dead by Keeping the Light of Solidarity and Hope.” As church people we continue to thank, honor, and pay tribute to those who went ahead of us due to AIDS-related diseases. In their memory, we continue to hold on to our struggle of life in its fullness, with dignity, rooted in love and hope.

The IACM, more than a memorial is a movement. It is a sacred act of people coming together from all walks of life– of people living with HIV & AIDS, with their families and allies, health practitioners and activists, and church people. We are all coming from local and global arrays, constantly seeking and persuading societies and governments for better responses to the AIDS epidemic thru systemic policy and cultural change.

As churches and communities of faith, we are in a unique position to better understand the real situation of people living with HIV and AIDS. We are constantly reminded to practice compassion and inclusivity, and to continuously side with the oppressed. We are a community of faith that pledges to put an end to inequality, stigma and discrimination as what Jesus Christ has exemplified.

According to data provided by the HIV and AIDS ART Registry of the Philippines, As of March 2022, an estimated 39 new HIV cases are recorded per day. And it is concerning that the demographics of those dying of AIDS-related illnesses are getting younger and younger by the day1. With all the programs and campaigns in place, we cannot help but wonder– why is the mortality rate still high?

With the national elections over, it is an important agenda for the next leaders of our country to take more decisive steps to improve the overall national healthcare system especially that we are still reeling the effects of the pandemic. The government’s response to the pandemic which has been riddled with widespread fascism, militaristic lockdowns, and repression of activists along with the constricting of our civic and political spaces. There is a general sense of weariness among the PLHIVs as their issues continue to be deprioritized. These PLHIVs have been fighting for decades for a better healthcare system, comprehensive education on HIV and AIDS, and accessible treatment.

The NCCP calls on its member churches to intensify its ministry and response for people living with HIV and AIDS, to incarnate and enflesh Christ in church and community as we provide awareness, services and ministries appropriate for PLHIVs. Let us be bearers of hope for PLHIVs.

Let us honor the memories of those who have died of AIDS-related diseases, the advocates, and rights activists. Let us join the call for accountability, and be united in the clamor to end all inequalities and eradicate stigma and discrimination in our churches and communities. Let us keep the light of solidarity and hope burning, and join the fight for health and rights of all people. As Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” John 10:10.

Signed:

15 May 2022

REV. FELIPE B. EHICAN, JR.
Chairperson

RT. REV. JOEL O. PORLARES
Vice – Chairperson

DR. GAY B. MANODON
Vice – Chairperson

MA. KAY CATHRINE F. ALMARIO
Vice – Chairperson

MAJOR ALLAIN M. NIETES
Treasurer

BISHOP REUEL NORMAN O. MARIGZA
General Secretary


[1] Of the recorded cases, 447 were young people ages 15 to 24 years old, while 56 were from the ages 18 to 19. Additionally, in this month alone 66 people died due to AIDS-related illnesses. Ten of those who died were from the ages of 15 to 24 years old and 34 were from the ages 25 to 34 years old.

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