HIV/AIDS forum for Dumaguete clergy, religious set Tuesday

DUMAGUETE CITY, (PNA) – Members of the clergy and religious organizations of the Diocese of Dumaguete will be attending a forum on Tuesday to increase awareness on the human immune system disease known as the human immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

The activity is spearheaded by the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Dumaguete in collaboration with St. Paul University-Dumaguete and focuses on the theme, “In the Compassion of Christ, Revealing the Truth about HIV/AIDS and the Catholic Church’s Response.

Fr. Burton Villarmente, director of the Social Action Center, disclosed that this is a follow-up to a similar activity earlier at the St. Paul University-Dumaguete, which was attended by lay members of the Church.

Last May, following the general assembly of the Philippine Catholic HIV/AIDS Network (PhilCHAN), the Dumaguete chapter was also created on June 12 with a forum at St. Paul University.

This time around, the priests are the target audience for the HIV/AIDS forum in preparation for plans to reach a wider audience on the disease through a diocesan approach and at the parish levels afterwards, said Fr. Villarmente.

During the forum, some People Living with HIV (PL HIV) have been invited to speak and share their experiences, disclosed Villarmente. These persons found positive of HIV include a youth and a heterosexual.

“We do not judge them. We just want them share their life stories with us so we can drum up public awareness that the HIV/AIDS problem is already for real here,” the Social Action Center director explained.

Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes will give the welcome message with Fr. Villarmente being one of the resource persons.

The key resource speaker is Rev. Fr. Rodolfo Vicente V. Cancino, Jr. MI, Executive Secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Health Care and who is a medical doctor as well.

Fr. Cancino will deliver talks on two topics, “HIV and AIDS: A Challenge to Sexual to Spiritual Journey” and In the Compassion of Christ: A Church Response to the Challenges of HIV and AIDS”.