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Ending AIDS, simply

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ENDING THE AIDS epidemic by 2030, as we committed to in the Sustainable Development Goals, will require a continuous collaborative effort. The United Nations, Governments, civil society and other partners have been working together to scale up access to health services and to halt new HIV infections. More than 23 million people living with HIV were receiving treatment in 2018.

Communities around the world are at the heart of this response―helping people to claim their rights, promoting access to stigma-free health and social services, ensuring that services reach the most vulnerable and marginalized, and pressing to change laws that discriminate. As the theme of this year’s observance rightly highlights, communities make the difference.

Yet unmet needs remain. A record 38 million people are living with HIV, and resources for the response to the epidemic declined by $1 billion last year. More than ever we need to harness the role of community-led organizations that advocate for their peers, deliver HIV services, defend human rights and provide support.

Where communities are engaged, we see change happen. We see investment lead to results. And we see equality, respect and dignity.

With communities, we can end AIDS.

SO GOES the message of UN Secretary- General Antonio Guterres for World AIDS Day 2019 observed Dec. 1, hewing on the theme Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community.

Well, what do you know Sec-Gen, Angeles City has predated your call by five years. Indubitable proof of such prescience of the city government is this piece that appeared here in May 2014.

Angeles City’s aim: Zero HIV detection

So screamed the May 21 banner story of Headline Gitnang Luzon.

Zero HIV detection?

In utter disbelief, as I was? Read on:

“The city government, in joining the world in lighting candles to remember AIDS victims, is aiming for a zero HIV detection through the initiative of the communities.” So, the lead paragraph qualifies.

Zero HIV detection. It’s really there. So, believe. As I did. And some other readers I chanced upon over coffee and doughnuts at Krispy Kreme, SM City Clark.

And on the bases of the headline and the lead, I readily assumed – and they agreed: The collective intelligence obtaining at the Angeles City hall is equal to that of a gnat’s.

I repeat, boldly now: The collective intelligence obtaining at the Angeles City hall is equal to that of a gnat’s.

Angeles City could not have aimed any lower than zero HIV detection in its campaign against the dreaded affliction. That is not only the lowest but even the basest level the LGU could ever aim for.

(Mabalacat City’s double visionary Deng Pangilinan instantly rued the inapplicability here of his oft-quoted classic “Checkpoint English” attributed to the car dealers of yore, Norio and Marsing: “How much the lowest can you make it down?”)

Aim high. Olongapo City Mayor Richard J. Gordon once mobilized his constituency to make their city the cleanest in the whole country. So’ the Memo Plus Gold-supplemented Ashley Manabat remembered.

Aim lowest. The Angeles City government is now virtually directing its anti-HIV-AIDS battles. Riposted someone who looked like Sun-Star Pampanga’s Rey Navales.

While it may take a community initiative to light candles in some commemorative ceremonies – as indeed it took Angeles City, according to the story – it does not take that much number of people to achieve zero HIV detection.

Yeah, as in the case of evil readily triumphing when good people do nothing, all it takes for the city government to accomplish that zero-sum aim is to close its eyes to any and all cases of HIV in the city, past, present and to come. Zero detection of HIV. Zero case of HIV. Zero case of AIDS. Ergo: totally safe sex at Fields Avenue, the very ground zero of HIV-AIDS in the city, moreso, in the rest of it. Simple as that.

Yeah, in one fell swoop – okay, with one banner headline – Angeles City appears to have found the final solution to its HIV-AIDS problem there.

I can’t quite get it but I see some parallelism there with that epic fail of a reporter who once uploaded his photo on Facebook, looking like he has had no sleep for a week, captioning it: “So hard to hide tired eyes.”

To which I commented, rather wryly: “Close them, dummy.”

Aiming for zero HIV detection makes the Angeles City government the proverbial ostrich burying its head in the sand, which unwittingly exposes its behind, thereby the temptation to kick it. As we may well be doing now.

Aiming for zero HIV detection makes the Angeles City government two of the three proverbial monkeys – the one seeing no evil and the one hearing no evil – thoroughly insensitive, if not clueless, to what goes around them. But we choose not to assume the monkeyness to speak no evil. So, you’re reading this now, though evil it may come to those it may be inflicted upon.

By aiming for zero HIV detection, the Angeles City government can be accused of shirking its responsibility to protect and preserve the health, and uplift the welfare of its people. Thus, negating the LGU’s very reason for being.

Thus, making a mockery of all those best practices, seal of good housekeeping, sound fiscal management and good governance awards and recognitions so far reaped by the city.

And a falsity of Mayor Ed Pamintuan’s 8thplace finish in the World Mayor Prize.

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