Empowering Communities: World AIDS Day 2023 Webinar Sparks Crucial Conversations
By LJ Rebadolla
10 December 2023, The Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc., in collaboration with World Citi Colleges and their College of Nursing, organized an educational webinar in commemoration of World AIDS Day 2023. The goal of this remote event was intended to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and to communicate significant data. The event amplified the World AIDS Day 2023 theme, "Let's communities lead," promoting a global call for community-driven initiatives and efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
According to the World Health Organization, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has resulted in 40.4 million deaths worldwide, with ongoing transmissions posing a continuing public health risk. Despite the challenges, many initiatives were undertaken throughout the last decade, which has led to significant advancement. In the Western Pacific Region, there is an alarming increase in HIV diagnoses, in particular in the Philippines.
Every year, on December 1st, World AIDS Day brings people together to celebrate the continued fight for HIV/AIDS. This global observance acts as an important reminder of the challenges that have been experienced, the care provided to those affected, and the memory of those who have died as a result of AIDS. The FORUM and World Citi Colleges nursing students hosted a webinar on World AIDS Day that addressed this important topic and aimed to empower communities to combat the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS.
John Hendrix Doctor, President of the College of Nursing Student Council at World Citi Colleges, delivered the introductory remarks for this webinar. Mr. Doctor expressed appreciation to those who participated and stressed the significant role of each participant in the event's success.
Keynote speaker Kevin De Vera, MAN, Director of Program and Advocacy at the Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc., highlighted the crucial role of communities in advancing conversations and fighting the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. De Vera's remarks also emphasized the theme's relevance, "Let's communities lead." De Vera emphasized the importance of community-led interventions and stated the need for HIV/AIDS information sharing, effective communication of sexual and reproductive health rights, grassroots health advocacy, and collaboration with stakeholders.
Gerardo Evan II, Secretary-General of Gentleman Bicol for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Inc., the guest speaker of the event, presented important information regarding HIV, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Andrea Himala, Level III Representative of World Citi Colleges' College of Nursing, gave final remarks at the event. Himala emphasized the webinar's contribution to HIV and AIDS education and awareness-building. They highlighted the value of educating, enlightening, and empowering people about HIV/AIDS and other STIs in their communities. They encouraged participants to get involved in the role of health advocates.
Moving on, this World AIDS Day 2023 webinar of the FORUM and the College of Nursing, World Citi Colleges brings communities together to discuss the problems raised by HIV and AIDS, participating as agents of awareness. The informative discussions, led by guest speakers and advocates, emphasized the significance of community-based initiatives, grassroots participation, and collaborative efforts in fighting stigma and discrimination.
Let's continue spreading awareness and knowledge, and empowering communities as we celebrate the advancements we've made as a community in fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic while remembering the challenges that are still existing. To build a knowledgeable society, accepting, and engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we need to remember that all of us have an important role in this fight. Let this be a call to action for every participant and reader: be a champion for health awareness, combat stigmas, and promote HIV/AIDS knowledge in your circles.
World AIDS Day is more than just a single day; it is an ongoing commitment to creating a healthier, more compassionate world. Let's keep empowering communities, fostering understanding, and working toward a day when HIV and AIDS are no longer a burden. The journey toward a world free of stigma and discrimination begins with every one of us.