MANILA, Philippines – HIV is on the decline globally, but the Philippines bucks the trend, posting a 25% increase in cases in the last year alone.
To raise awareness, Parañaque City has a unique approach: dancing. Devon Wong reports.
The Philippines is one of only seven countries where HIV continues to be on the rise and the City of Parañaque is tired of dancing around the subject of HIV.
The City of Parañaque sponsors this zumba marathon to mark World AIDS Day.
They come out in numbers, big and small, young and old, to learn the dance moves of J.lo, Shakira and Psy.
Through high energy aerobics and educational talks, city leaders hope people will get the message: that AIDS is on the rise and awareness is the key.
OLGA VIRPUSIO, PARANAQUE CITY HEALTH OFFICER: So this is a continuing effort of awareness campaign really to emphasize the need for us to be more aware of HIV and its dangers, its risks towards getting and how it can be prevented.
While HIV all over the world is on the decline, the number of HIV cases in the Philippines is rising at an astounding rate.
There’s a 300% increase in the number of cases in the last five years and a 25% increase from the last year alone.
In 2000, there was a new report of HIV every three days. Today, one Filipino acquires HIV every 2 hours.
Experts believe that the number of undiagnosed cases is high because of the stigma associated with HIV testing.
Event organizer and city health officer Karen Galvan says increasing access to contraception will help contain the spread of HIV.
KAREN GALVAN, EVENT ORGANIZER: Just because this country is highly devoted to Catholicism, it prevents them from thinking scientifically to prevent diseases such as HIV.
Organizers urge participants to be pro-active with their sexual health, regardless of their religion, gender or sexual orientation.
KAREN GALVAN, EVENT ORGANIZER: We cannot know which of us have this disease, so the only thing they can do is have themselves tested against it.
The City of Parañaque hopes that fun events like this will make HIV a center stage issue and encourage more people to get tested.
Devon Wong, Rappler, Manila. – Rappler.com