Friday, May 30, 2008

State of HIV and AIDS 2008, Philippines

It was a well-attended event where representatives from government offices, United Nations and bilateral organizations, media and civil society organizations gathered to attend the “Integrated HIV Behavioral and Serologic Surveillance (IHBSS) and 2008 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Country Progress Report National Dissemination Forum” which took place at the Pearl Manila Hotel. The Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) and the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) of the Department of Health organized the whole day activity to share the results of the Country Report and AIDS Registry as well as gather further inputs and recommendations on the current HIV and AIDS situation.

Ms. Noemi Bayoneta-Leis from the Health Action Information Network (HAIN) and project coordinator of the 2008 UNGASS presented the process and comparison between 2005 and 2008 UNGASS indicators results. Dr. Jessie Fantone of the PNAC Secretariat cited the regional AIDS situation as well as gave recognition to the organizations who have participated in the Good Practices documentation.

Dr. Eric Tayag, Director IV of NEC reported that there are 782 Filipinos who have died of AIDS since 1984. To date, the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the country is less than 0.01%, yet trends are suggesting that the numbers of cases are on the rise. In previous years an average of 20 cases were being reported monthly. However, in 2007 this figure increased to 29 cases per month.

Dr. Tayag was also joined by Dr. Genesis Samonte of NEC for the updates on the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry 2007 Annual Report. Ms. Nimfa Ogena of the University of the Philippines Population Institute presented the preliminary result of a study on knowledge on HIV, condom use and risky behavior among the most at risk population (MARP).

Moreover, Health and Development Initiatives Institute Executive Director Gladys Malayang shared to the audience about a new project on information database which is designed to post updates about the HIV and AIDS activities of NGOs all over the country.

As reactors to the presentations, Undersecretary Austere Panadero of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Dr. Gerald Belimac of National AIDS STI Prevention and Control Programme (NASPCP) and Robin Carbonel of Pinoy Plus Association reminded the audience that although the Philippines is considered “low prevalence” country, we should not become complacent but rather work together and be united as a community in supporting the ongoing efforts of prevention, treatment, and care in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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