Health Secretary Joseph Kevin Villagomez has called on the religious sector to support global efforts against the spread of HIV and AIDS by incorporating in weekly church sermons lessons that center on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Mr. Villagomez wrote last week to the clergy requesting Saipan churches to assist health organizations raise awareness on the diseases that he referred to as a “scandal” that has caused people to suffer and grieve in secret.
“HIV/AIDS is an affliction of the whole human family, a condition in which we all participate. We seek hope amidst the moral and medical tragedies of this pandemic in order to pass on hope for generations to come,” said the health secretary.
The Department of Public Health has transmitted to parishes around Saipan samples of the sermons churches may include in the mass services all throughout the month of December.
In addition, DPH also asked the religious community to reserve a moment of silence during services in memory of those who have died of AIDS.
DPH beefs up its anti-HIV/AIDS education campaign in observance of the World AIDS day commemoration on Dec. 1. December has also been proclaimed CNMI HIV/AIDS Awareness Month.
As a manifestation of community support and solidarity for victims, individuals are encouraged to wear a red ribbon on Dec. 1, the international symbol of HIV/AIDS.
This year’s World Aids Day theme is “Men Make a Difference.” It promotes among men more active involvement in anti-HIV/AIDS efforts in what appears to be a groundbreaking response to the national HIV/AIDS epidemic.
According to World Health Organization Regional Director Dr. Shigeru Omi, “Men Make a Difference” is a two-year campaign focusing on the role of men in the spread of AIDS.
He added that when men are engaged in fighting AIDS, they are able to change the course of the epidemic. Examples of intervention in the whole Western Pacific Region include involvement of men in the implementation of 100 percent condom use program in Cambodia, education of children and supporting families and individuals affected by AIDS.
According to health experts, men infected with HIV/AIDS comprise 70 percent of the total number of people infected with HIV in the Commonwealth.
As opposed to women, men are less likely to seek needed health care and are more likely to engage in behavior that increase their chances of acquiring the dreaded disease.