Abalos to LGUs: Establish AIDS councils

Romina Cabrera – The Philippine Star

December 3, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos has tasked local chief executives to organize their own AIDS councils and coordinating bodies to take the lead in providing interventions on the life-threatening disease on the grassroots level.

He noted that the local AIDS council/local AIDS coordinating body can provide interventions towards a sustainable community-led response against HIV.

He also appealed for the support of other sectors to create a more responsive environment for the needs of vulnerable individuals.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that there are 50 new HIV cases daily in the country this year.

This is more than double the 22 daily case rate recorded in 2022, which Abalos said has been very alarming.

“As the nation marks World AIDS Day, I join all the people living with HIV/AIDS everywhere in their continuing fight to finally end and defeat this life-threatening disease,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, to raise awareness on the issue of HIV/AIDS, the DOH held the first “Metro Manila AIDS Walk” yesterday at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park.

In a statement, DOH said the activity is aimed at breaking the stigma of HIV/AIDS testing.

“HIV prevention methods, testing and treatment can be availed for free,” said the DOH, adding, “consultation with primary care providers is important.”

The goal of the AIDS Walk activity is to end AIDS by 2030.

World Aids Day, commemorated yesterday, is a global initiative celebrated annually to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, honor those lost and support people living with HIV.

In line with this, the DOH-Center for Health Development Calabarzon, also on Friday, kicked off its “Byaheng Kalusugan: World AIDS Day.”

HIV services such as HIV testing, syphilis screening, Hepatitis B screening were provided for free.

The World AIDS Day celebration was also held at the Perez Park in Lucena City.

“On this significant occasion of World AIDS Day, the DOH proudly commemorates the progress and ongoing efforts in the fight against AIDS. This annual observance serves as a powerful reminder of our collective responsibility to raise awareness and eradicate stigma,” said Health Secretary Ted Herbosa.

He added, “The department also provides various opportunities to improve the delivery of health care services for HIV/AIDS through the 8-Point Action Agenda Para sa Healthy Pilipinas. These initiatives will further prevent new infections, enhancing care, treatment and support and mitigating the impacts of HIV and AIDS in the post-COVID-19 era.”

According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), there are now an estimated 164,400 people living with HIV in the country and that 24,400 new infections are estimated to be added in 2023 alone.

It is estimated that the country can prevent 162,000 new infections and more than 8,000 AIDS-related deaths if the country ramps up interventions provided by community-led organizations, UNAIDS said. — Rhodina Villanueva


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