PNAC partners with people living with HIV for World AIDS Day
MANILA – The Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) partnered with Pinoy Plus Association (PPA) in the staging of the Philippine observance of World AIDS Day today, Monday, 01 December at Atrium Hotel Manila in Pasay City.
Observance of 2014 World AIDS Day: Check Pinoy Plus’ Facebook page of the event, “WAD Philippines 2014”
PPA’s project brief on World AIDS Day described the event as an occasion “to remind the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.” They expected the visibility of partners from private sector, faith-based and community workers, and Government health providers, and attendance of youth and community leaders in Metro Manila and neighboring urban areas.
PPA is the pioneering organization of people living with HIV (PLHIV), and is a member of PNAC. The Council, per Republic Act 8504, or the national AIDS law is the multi-sectoral advisory, planning and policy-making body for the country’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Latest data from the Department of Health shows that over 20,000 Filipinos are confirmed HIV-positive cases. But this could only be half of the actual PLHIV population. In PNAC’s last report to the United Nations, PLHIVs’ access to antiretroviral treatment is over 80 percent. This treatment improves patients’ survival even while there still is no proven cure to the HIV disease.
In time for World AIDS Day, UNAIDS also launched the “Close the Gap” campaign. It envisions that by 2020 global AIDS response will achieve 90 percent of PLHIV on treatment gained viral suppression, 90 percent of PLHIV in need received treatment, and 90 percent of PLHIV already knew their status. This early, Philippines’ treatment coverage nears the mark, but not yet for HIV testing.
Coverage remains low on high HIV-risk populations getting tested and knowing their results – as low as three and not better than 15 percent. Among males who have sex with males and transgender women, prevalence is already over three and five percent, respectively. However, HIV prevalence is still less than one percent in the general population.
In a media interview during one promotional leg of Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, acting health secretary Janette Loreto-Garin surmised that AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, including lack of support among families of PLHIV pull down success of the HIV and AIDS programs.
PPA hoped that through World AIDS Day, stigma and discrimination faced by PLHIVs would begin to resolve with the youth’s and community leaders’ improved understanding of the epidemic, and stronger commitment in HIV and AIDS advocacy.
N.B. Per request from the boss, I prepared this Press Release last Friday, 28 November. An office mate informed me that today, just before the actual celebration was staged, the text was revised. But I didn’t find out how. I was already attending another World AIDS Day event as a representative of the office and guest speaker.
UPDATE (02 Dec): The revised Press Release was uploaded on PNAC’s website. Download here.