Philippine economy

Analysts optimistic about erasing HIV in PH

HIV cases in the Philippines are rising at an alarming rate. Local and international agencies unveil a plan to curb its spread. Natashya Gutierrez reports.

MANILA, Philippines – HIV cases in the Philippines are rising at an alarming rate. Local and international agencies unveil a plan to curb its spread.

Natashya Gutierrez reports.

When it comes to HIV prevention, the Philippines is going against the worldwide trend and lagging behind its Asian neighbors.

In 2011, five million people were living with HIV in the Asia and Pacific region.

Countries like India, Myanmar and Thailand — where the number of infected people are highest — have reduced new infections by more than 50% in the past decade.

The number of new infections here has risen by at least 25% from 2001-2011.

The Department of Health estimates about 9 new cases of HIV a day.

ADB Vice President Stephen Groff says the World Bank and the Department of Health are working together on an HIV prevention program that will concentrate on big cities in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

STEPHEN GROFF, ADB VICE PRESIDENT: ADB and the World Bank, together with the Philippines Department of Health designed a project that focuses on high quality services provision, providing information to targeted groups, and advocacy among key holders.

According to the DOH, trends have changed in the Philippines.

From predominantly females, most of those infected are now men, specifically men who have sex with other men.

Factors that caused the rise of numbers in the Philippines include poverty, minimal condom use and lack of information.

DOH Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag says they know the root of the problem. Now, intervention is essential.

ENRIQUE TAYAG, DOH ASSISTANT SECRETARY: We need investments and we have our framework. We invest in prevention, in strengthening health systems and more for treatment, care and support if thats necessary.

There are about 21,000 Filipinos estimated to be living with HIV.

The number may reach 40,000 in 2015.

The good news is, the government and development agencies understand the problem, and are acting now.

The goal of the Asian Development Bank is getting to zero. Zero new infections, zero discrimination, and zero aids related deaths.

Analysts believe the virus can be erased completely, but emphasize the need to scale up interventions, challenge the stigma around it, and encourage public debate.

Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler. – Rappler.com