DOH launches search for HIV/AIDS ambassadors

The Department of Health launches the "Lhive Free Campaign", a search for the 2018 HIV/AIDS ambassadors, in Quezon City.

MANILA–In a bid to increase the public awareness on ways to prevent HIV-AIDS among the youth, the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday launched the tri-beauty pageant for the HIV/AIDS advocacy ambassadors.

Together with agency partners, the DOH launched the “Lhive Free Campaign”, a search for the 2018 HIV/AIDS ambassadors, in Quezon City.

“This Lhive Free Campaign of the Department of Health (DOH) is very important because our youth now is facing one of the menaces of all time-HIV infection,” Dr. Gerard Belimac, DOH program manager for HIV/AIDS Sexually Transmitted Infections, said.

Latest figures from DOH show that the Philippines has registered the highest incidence of HIV and AIDS in the Asia and the Pacific.

Belimac said the campaign also aims to relay the message to the public that DOH has the the capability to detect early persons infected with HIV and provide them with free medications.

He said the project was conceptualized in 2015 through the development of a communication plan based on the consultation done with various stakeholders, including those infected with HIV.

Based on the communication plan, Belimac said they found out that the DOH should undertake a more innovative and creative way to step up the education and information drive on HIV/AIDS issue.

“And as we all know, the Philippines is very fond of pageantry and we know winning beauty queens are very influential even across all genders. So we supported this strategic direction of providing the right information through selecting the ambassadors,” he said.

With the pageant, Belimac said they also hope to encourage local chief executives to help in curbing the growing number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country.

Meanwhile, beauty queen Kylie Versoza, who also attended the launch of the search, said aside from her mental health advocacy, she is also pushing for heightening public awareness on HIV/AIDS prevention.

“My main advocacy is mental health. But I’d like my voice sharing information about HIV awareness because not only does HIV affect you physically…but also emotionally, psychologically and mentally. A lot of HIV patients go to depression and anxiety because of the lack of understanding of what they are going through,” Versoza, a DOH ambassador, said. (PNA)