Palawan still tops MIMAROPA in HIV cases

Palawan News - - PROVINCE - By Ger­ardo Reyes Re­porter

Palawan prov­ince re­mains on top in the MIMAROPA re­gion with the high­est hu­man im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency virus (HIV) cases. Regina Vil­lapa, the co­or­di­na­tor for the city health of­fice’s Sex­u­ally Trans­mit­ted In­fec­tions Hu­man Im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency Virus Ac­quired Im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency Syn­drome (STI HIV AIDS) Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol Pro­gram, said 295 out of the to­tal 590 HIV cases in MIMAROPA are in the prov­ince. Vil­lapa said their records show that as of Au­gust this year, 198 pa­tients are en­rolled in the treat­ment hub and 139 of them are from Puerto Princesa City. She, how­ever, re­fused to name the barangays where the HIV pa­tients are from to pro­tect their iden­ti­ties. To pre­vent the preva­lence from grow­ing more, the city gov­ern­ment and the or­ga­niz­ers of the Miss Uni­verse Philip­pines rep­re­sented by Catri­ona Gray, the 2018 pageant win­ner, signed a com­mit­ment on Mon­day called the “Fast-Track – End­ing the AIDS Epi­demic by 2030.” The com­mit­ment is a strat­egy by the UNAIDS that tar­gets the re­duc­tion of the an­nual num­ber of new HIV in­fec­tions to 500,000 by 2020 and to less than 200,000 by 2030, Dr. Louie Ocampo, coun­try di­rec­tor of the Joint United Na­tions Pro­gramme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), said. Ocampo said the strat­egy aims to in­crease the sup­port of pa­tients with HIV/AIDS. “Meron na tay­ong retro­vi­ral ther­apy na mai­inom na gamot at within three to six months ay manum­num­ba­lik na ang pasyente sa kanyang nor­mal at healthy life,” he said. He added that HIV pa­tients pre­fer not to seek avail­able treat­ment ser­vices fear­ing “work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion, pub­lic hu­mil­i­a­tion and be­ing stig­ma­tized.” “Marami ang hindi nag-a-ac­cess ng treat­ment dahil sa stigma at dis­crim­i­na­tion. Ang at­ing gi­na­gawa ngayon ay to fast-track and scale up ang mga ser­bisyo at mas iIapit sa mga com­mu­ni­ties,” Oca- mpo pointed out. He ex­pressed optimism that by 2030 “the coun­try’s ma­jor cities, in­clud­ing Puerto Princesa City will elim­i­nate the dreaded dis­ease. Also among the com­mit­ment part­ners are Save the Chil­dren, Global Fund, Pilip­inas Shell Foun­da­tion, Inc., Love Your­self, Roots of Health, Ospi­tal ng Palawan, and Project 4H Tandikan. “End­ing the HIV/AIDS epi­demic in the Philip­pines by 2030 is achiev­able kayang-kaya if ma­jor cities like Puerto Princesa [will] act im­me­di­ately to fast­track case re­sponse. Ang gi­na­gawa natin is de­ci­sively to fast-track HIV/AIDS re­sponse with re­newed com­mit­ment,” Ocampo said. He said the com­mit­ment sign­ing will, hope­fully, es­tab­lish the net­work of ser­vices de­liv­ery with the help of the dif­fer­ent part­ners. The ini­tia­tive is a multi-sec­toral ap­proach where the city gov­ern­ment should for­mu­late a Lo­cal In­vest­ment Plan for HIV/ AIDS that will have an al­lo­ca­tion for five straight years to en­sure the sus­tain­abil­ity of pro­grams and ser­vices, he said. Part of the com­mit­ment is the city gov­ern­ment’s ab­sorp­tion of the com­mu­nity out­reach work­ers who were hired by Global Fund to help in fast-track­ing the de­liv­ery of treat­ment ser­vices to HIV pa­tients. Mayor Lu­cilo Bay­ron said the city gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to sup­port the City HIV/AIDS Coun­cil pro­gram and ac­tiv­i­ties. He said they have al­lo­cat- ed more than P3 mil­lion for the HIV/AIDS pro­gram un­der the City Health Of­fice ( CHO) this year and will in­crease the fund­ing sup­port in the 2019 an­nual bud­get. “Sa buong MIMAROPA ay tayo ang top­notcher kasi tayo rin na­man ang pinaka-pro­gre­sibo. Meron tay­ong pro­grama at gusto natin magka­roon ng mas masi­gasig na de­tec­tion ser­vices,” he said. Gray, on the other hand, said she can help the pro­gram by pro­mot­ing the re­moval of bar­ri­ers and by sup­port­ing and help­ing the in­sti­tu­tions and or­ga­ni­za­tions that work to elim­i­nate the HIV chal­lenge. “It is an amaz­ing step that we are mak­ing to­day. I can help the city by pro­mot­ing to re­move the bar­ri­ers be­cause there is med­i­ca­tion avail­able that will lead us to healthy and nor­mal lives. We will slowly break down the stigma. (HIV) is just like di­a­betes and can be treated,” she said. She said every in­di­vid­ual should not fear rou­tinely sub­ject­ing him­self/her­self to be HIV/AIDS tested just like check­ing their blood sugar and blood pres­sure as early pre­ven­tion and de­tec­tion.

(Photo cour­tesy of the City In­for­ma­tion Of­fice)

Miss Uni­verse Philip­pines 2018 Catri­ona Gray (2nd from left, seated), Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lu­cilo Bay­ron, and UNAIDS Coun­try Di­rec­tor Dr. Louie Ocampo dur­ing the sign­ing of the “Fast-Track – End­ing the AIDS Epi­demic by 2030“com­mit­ment on Mon­day, Septem­ber 18, at the City Hall.

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