HIV in the Philippines

Advocates launch media guide for empowering stories on HIV

Jezreel Ines

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Advocates launch media guide for empowering stories on HIV

VISIBLITY IS KEY. Different HIV advocates launch media toolkit and Visibility is Key campaign ahead of World AIDS Day celebration on December 1.

Jezreel Ines/Rappler

The HIV reporting media guide and toolkit provide guidance to avoid sensationalizing stories

MANILA, Philippines – In observance of World AIDS Day, different advocates launched Wednesday, November 29, a media guide to help Filipino journalists tell “truthful, empowering, and human rights-based” stories reporting on the issue of HIV and AIDS.

During the ‘Visibility is key’ campaign event on Wednesday, November 29, Anastacio Marasigan, president of the TLF Share Collective, emphasized the significance of accurate reporting to increase awareness of the HIV situation in the Philippines.

“Sensationalizing and assuming shame in HIV reporting prevent people from getting tested and availing treatment,” he said.

World AIDS Day in on December 1.

Ellen Felix, co-convenor of Network Plus and a person diagnosed with HIV for nearly three decades, said the media could help eliminate stigma and discrimination for younger generations, correcting past misrepresentations.

Malaki ang contribution ng media sa larangan ng advocacy, huwag sana natin i-sensationalize at mag-focus doon sa facts na nakukuha natin [tungkol sa HIV],” she said.

(The media has a significant contribution in the field of advocacy. Let’s avoid sensationalizing and instead focus on the facts that we gather [about HIV].)

The HIV reporting media guide and toolkit provide guidance to avoid sensationalizing HIV stories. It encourages Filipino journalists to foster enriched public discourse and initiate positive change through accurate reporting and compassionate storytelling.

Mara Quesada, executive director of Action Health Initiatives, Inc. (ACHIEVE), underscored the influential role of media in encouraging Filipinos to make better choices and  protect themselves from HIV. 

“Iyong kapangyarihan niyo rin na impluwesyahan iyong programa at polisya para sa HIV, kailangan talaga namin ng tulong sa media sa pakikipaglaban sa everyday stigma and discrimination,” she said.

(Your power also lies in influencing programs and policies for HIV. We really need media assistance in combating everyday stigma and discrimination.)

She also said affected communities of HIV in the Philippines should have meaningful participation to address the rising incidence of disease in the country, including in development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of HIV programs and services.

Intensifying HIV campaigns among the youth

In the latest data from the Department of Health (DOH) – Epidemiology Bureau, the Philippines posted the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the Asia-Pacific region with 418% increase in new infections between 2010 and 2022 and 518% change in AIDS-related deaths between the same period. 

As of August 2023, the country has a total of 121,075 people living with HIV and nearly half are among the youth ages 15-24.

DOH Assistant Secretary Beverly Lorraine Ho said that the increased cases among the youth may indicate reduced stigma, with them being less hesitant to undergo testing.

However, Ho emphasized the need to enhance proper sex education and awareness in the Philippines, especially considering the highest number of reported HIV cases among the youth.

She also added that the DOH was set to collaborate with the Department of Education (DepEd) to intensify HIV campaign and address various health-related issues affecting the youth. The campaign also aims to create a more comprehensive and impactful initiative for the well-being of the younger generation.

Hindi na naman natin kailangan i-deny (We don’t need to deny) that the cases are really getting younger, so the information has to be with them earlier and then also the opportunities where to get tested coming also earlier,” she said.

The Reproductive Health (RH) Act of 2012, mandates age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education (RHE) in all government schools in the Philippines. This provision aims to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about their reproductive health and sexuality.

However, according to research conducted by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), the execution of comprehensive sexuality education encounters numerous challenges such as insufficient materials and facilities in schools, coupled with a lack of proper training among instructors for the integration of sex education into the curriculum

Carl Angelo Ortiz from Y-PEER Pilipinas said having sex education integrated into the school curriculum will be a big step in providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier choices and contribute to the prevention of HIV and other health-related issues.

“We see it important because the learning is not not just in the four corners of the classroom. It is a life skill approach that we need to teach our young generation given on the data from HIV and AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP) kung saan pabata nang pabata iyong nagkakaroon ng HIV (where HIV cases are getting younger),” he said.

In 2021, awareness among Filipino youth regarding HIV and/or AIDS has reached its lowest point since 1994, as indicated by the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS5) of UP Population Institute (UPPI).

The study found 76% of young Filipinos aged 15-24 have heard of HIV and/or AIDS, a 19-percentage point drop from 1994 when awareness stood at 95%. –

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Jezreel Ines

Jezreel is a researcher-writer at Rappler mainly focused on governance and social issues.