MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) has developed action plans to address the high number of cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the country.
During a strategic planning assembly on Friday, Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH is committed to combat the discrimination and stigma associated with HIV.
“Through this strategic planning, the actions to address the HIV crisis combined with factors that fuel the epidemic such as: social and gender inequalities, stigma and discrimination, structural barriers that prevent equitable access of affected populations to prevention, treatment, and care, and challenges placed on health, non-health and community systems, will be harmonized and concretized,” she said.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Francia Laxamana, who is also the head of the department’s Special Concerns Team, joined Vergeire in the planning.
The strategies formulated by the DOH and the PNAC were harmonized with the previously developed 7th AIDS Medium Term Plan, which highlights the five strategic pillars of the master plan: Prevent, Treat, Protect, Strengthen, and Sustain.
According to DOH HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines, a total of 12,859 HIV cases and 878 deaths were reported from January to October 2022.
Since 1984, the country has logged a total of 107,177 cases per day.
For the month of October 2022, around 1,383 confirmed HIV-positive individuals were reported. Three hundred fifty-three or 26 percent of them had an advanced HIV infection at the time of diagnosis.
Of the reported cases, about 1,321 or 96 percent were males while 62 or 4 percent were females.
Around 700 or 51 percent of the cases were 25 to 34 years old at the time of the diagnosis; 395 or 29 percent are 15 to 24 years old; 242 or 18 percent are 35 to 49 years old; 40 or 3 percent are 50 years old and older; and six or less than one percent are under 15 years old.
A total of 66,041 people living with HIV are on anti-retroviral therapy as of October 2022. Of the tally, 63,662 or 96 percent were on the first line of regimen; 1,960 or 3 percent were on the second line; and 419 or 1 percent were on the third line.
“We cannot do this alone. We need the help of all our partners and stakeholders on the ground. When we work together, our goal of ending the stigma and creating healthier communities will be ultimately achieved," Vergeire said.
Currently, various developmental partners support PNAC and pledge to continue collaboration with the different member agencies to make HIV services more accessible.
These include the World Health Organization, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, AIDS Health Foundation, AIDS Society of the Philippines, Positive Foundation Philippines Incorporated Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., Action Health Initiative, Pinoy Plus Advocacy Pilipinas Inc., and the Dangerous Drugs Board.
In the last quarter of 2022, the United States (US) donated PHP85 million worth of HIV viral load testing cartridges to strengthen the Philippines’ HIV treatment program in observance of World AIDS Day.
US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said the US government is committed to working alongside the Department of Health, the community of Filipinos living with HIV, and local governments to ensure that people living with HIV have equitable access to a viral load test nationwide. (PNA)