‘PH should spend more on AIDS prevention’

The Philippine government's budget for programs to prevent HIV-AIDS is not enough to reach populations that are "most at risk"

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government’s budget for programs to prevent HIV-AIDS is not enough to reach populations that are “most at risk.”

UNAIDS Country Coordinator Teresita Bagasao made this observation at a forum on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria organized by the University of the Philippines- Manila’s National Institute of Health.

Prevention programs, Bagasao stressed, should reach 80 percent of sex workers, men-having-sex-with-men, and injecting drug users to halt the rising cases of HIV-AIDS in the Philippines. At present, she said, programs cover less than 50 percent of the vulnerable population.

She said an indicator of how inadequate programs are is the fact that there’s hardly any information available to people who may need them in terms of how to protect themselves.

Inadequate resources are taking their toll. While other countries are able to lower the rate of infections or control it, in the Philippines, the numbers are increasing rapidly over the past years.

The Philippines is one in seven countries that reported more than 25-percent increase in new infections from 2001 to 2009, according to Bagasao. From January to December 2011, a total of 2,349 HIV cases were recorded by the Department of Health.

Of this number, 94 have progressed into AIDS while 17 have died. Most of the cases came from Metro Manila, Cebu City and Davao City.

“We have what is described by the scientific community as concentrated epidemic,” Bagasao added. – Rappler.com

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