Philippines way short of goal vs HIV, says UN agency


With a 50-percent increase in new HIV infections in the past 10 years and decreasing local and foreign funding for anti-AIDS programs, the Philippines has “a long way” to go to meet its sixth Millennium Development Goal (MDG)—to halt and reverse the spread of the dreaded disease by 2015.

According to the country coordinator of the United Nations Program on HIV-AIDS (UNAIDS), Teresita Marie Bagasao, the country should “dramatically scale up its HIV-AIDS prevention efforts so it could fulfill its MDG commitment.”

“With decreasing external resources, the country needs to mobilize domestic resources to get ahead of the epidemic. The country also has to focus on where the disease is, as well as to do things faster, smarter and better based on evidence of what works,” Bagasao told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Funding for anti-HIV-AIDS programs “needs to be four times (about P1.76 billion) more than the current level (about P440 million per year) to achieve universal goals,” she stressed.

“Eighty percent of resources for AIDS response is external, mainly from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. However, the current Global Fund grant will come to an end in Nov. 2012. The program may start accepting new funding proposals by late 2013 or early 2014. This means the country’s resource gap will be even greater,” Bagasao pointed out.

The Philippines received  about $20.4 million (about P890 million) in grants from the Global Fund to boost its not so successful “Getting to Zero” campaign against HIV-AIDS.

Top recipients

Among the top recipients of Global Fund releases were Ethiopia ($560 million), India ($385 million) and Tanzania ($364 million), as well as Southeast Asian countries like Thailand ($174 million), Cambodia ($111 million), Indonesia ($85 million) and Vietnam ($27 million).

Exacerbated by the “underfunding, if not unfunding” of anti-HIV AIDS programs, current efforts by both the public and private sectors are not enough to reverse Department of Health estimates of a five-fold increase in new HIV infections in the next five years.

“If current efforts remain at the same level, there will be 30,000 to 45,000 cases of HIV in the country by 2015,” Bagasao warned.

From an estimated 600 HIV cases in 2001, some 4,600 new infections were monitored last year by the DOH.

“New HIV infections in the country, which have been expanding since 2009, are concentrated among men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers,” said the UNAIDS official.

She disclosed that “the vast majority of people living with HIV are based in three highly urbanized metropolitan areas: Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.”

However, “new HIV infections are also reported in other areas in the country and among overseas Filipino workers.”

Since 1984, some 3,700 Filipinos —including an estimated 500 in 2010—have died of AIDS-related causes, noted Bagasao.

Philippines one of seven

The human immuno-deficiency virus, or HIV, leads to AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a condition in which the body’s immune system is attacked, weakened and disabled by the virus, ultimately leading to death. HIV is transmitted mainly through sex or blood transfusion.

In a 2010 Global AIDS report released by UNAIDS, the country was one of seven nations in the world which reported over 25 percent in new HIV infections, whereas other states had either stabilized or shown significant declines in the rate of new infections.

Among all countries in Asia, only the Philippines and Bangladesh were reporting increases in HIV cases, while others were either stable or decreasing, the UN-attached agency also reported.

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  • Anonymous

    If ever there was an example of why Church and State should be kept separate then here it is.   The Catholic Church influences our politicians and Filipinos die –  Abstainence as taught by the Bishops does NOT work, and Filipinos die.  

    The Bishops accept no responsibility and go home to their big houses to eat their fine meals and sleep in their comfortable beds, and more Filipinos die.

    Time for our politicians to step forward and take responsibility for the people who elected them.  Ignore the Bishops and tax Catholic Properties to pay for the RH Education that has been denied to all.

    • Noypi

      Political will is indeed needed…

  • Anonymous

    Maybe the solution is to have education and birth control available to only non-catholics in the Philippines.  Catholics could wear a red dot or something to indicate they have NOT been educated; it would also act as a warning that those wearing a red dot should be left alone as they are at greater risk of STDs.  The Bishops cannot claim authority over non-catholics.  

    Bishops could take responsibility for the health care of those catholics from the great wealth the Philip[pine Catholic Church holds here –  after all the wealth was provided to them by the congregation they serve, as well as other ummmm  donations from grateful politicians.

    That way, Filipinos who are not Catholic are not disadvantaged by the Bishops interference in Government!

    Or, simply pass the RH Bill and the Bishops can tell their congregation not to participate – hmmm maybe the Bishops think their congregations just won;t listen to them the same way politicians do?

  • EC

    Why should we care for the very very few who die of AIDS every year when there are many many more who die of common infections everyday simply because government hospitals can not give them the antibiotic therapy worth fifty pesos. As far as I know, nobody can give you AIDS without your consent.

    • Anonymous

      Not true. A child born from a mother with AIDS will contract the disease. Drinking breast milk from a person with AIDS can transfer the virus. If you’re husband/wife cheated on you, you may get the virus without your consent. If you’ve undergone blood transfusion from a person with AIDS, you can get it. Yes, there are people who participate in risky activities which make them prone to the disease, but it is not true that innocent people are not at risk, and failing to protect them based on sheer statistics is just plain wrong.

      Although you have a point that there are a lot of things other than AIDS that we need to attend to as a society, neglecting the spread of AIDS would be arrogance.

  • Anonymous

    Nawawala na ang katinuan, napupunta sa ulo sa ibaba ang utak kapag tinamaan na ng init sa katawan (tapos nahaluan pa ng espiritu ng alak o droga). Katawan ninyo iyan, huwag kayong papadala sa maling impormasyon o bugso ng damdamin.

  • Guest

    At least the Philippines cope with the neighbor states who have n-fold higher rates of HIV prevalence. *irony off*

    Seriously, this “Millennium Development Goal (MDG)” is really a joke. They set unrealistic targets which simply can’t be cope within 15 years. But that is typically UN: Good in theory, when it comes to practical, that institution is a whole junk.

    UN? UnderNoobs!

  • Catman John

    There are obvious and immediate steps that the government can take to reverse the spread of AIDS. The first thing is to give all workers in the sex trade a free, but mandatory test. Then close those brothels and bars along the Airport road, KTV bars, and Angeles, unless they comply. To those who are affected by the virus, they should be placed under the care of the Catholic Church and social groups whose purpose is to help the poor and unfortunate. Those who are still negative should be allowed to work but monitored, like the Dutch. Eradicating this trade is unrealistic, but to work within to curtail the risks and dangers would be the best policy. The government should do more to create job opportunities to those women who are forced into this trade due to the lack of economic opportunities. 

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