Skip to main content

The political will to fight HIV-AIDS



The HIV/AIDS picture in the country is dismal -- five Filipinos get infected with HIV every day, and three Filipinos die from full-blown AIDS every week. Along with Bangladesh, we are the only Asian country where HIV/AIDS infections are growing. It has been on the downtrend in the rest of the world -- except n seven countries, the rest being in Africa.

Because of these, several lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations and allied groups have banded together to write an open letter to President Noynoy Aquino to serve as a wake-up call to this issue. I am giving space to their open letter, entitled "Dear Pnoy: Where is the political will to fight HIV and AIDS?"

"This week, the United Nations will gather more than forty heads of state and ministers in a High Level Meeting that would plot the next phase of the struggle to eliminate HIV and AIDS. The High Level Meeting marks the 30th year since the discovery of AIDS, and while there is cause for optimism due to a global decline in new infections and HIV-related deaths, the next roadmap cannot be premised on complacency or a backslide in political commitments. Now, more than ever, global leaders should commit more and scale up their actions to eliminate the epidemic and put an end to this protracted and costly fight.

"The Philippines has crucial stakes in this international effort. After all, it is one of only seven countries worldwide that is experiencing an alarming rise in HIV infection. It is likewise heavily reliant on foreign aid in its HIV and AIDS response, thus the outcome of the UN High Level Meeting would have implications on the country’s HIV and AIDS programs and services.

"Despite these important considerations, the Philippines scaled down its participation in the High Level Meeting. Where other countries chose to send their heads of state and high-ranking ministers who can commit to fight and lobby for a more effective global plan on HIV and AIDS, President Noynoy Aquino and his political alter egos, especially Health Secretary Enrique Ona, decided to skip the High Level Meeting. Also telling was the last- minute approval of the inclusion of civil-society organization (CSO) representation in the national delegation.

"This reflects a pattern of indifference and lack of political will on the part of the government on an issue that merits immediate action. The Aquino administration is clearly ignoring the gravity of the situation: the country is sitting on an HIV time bomb, and yet the government refuses to do anything.

"The spike in new infections should be enough to wake the government from its complacency: HIV may not have reached the general population yet, but it is moving towards that direction. Based on the targets that were set five years ago, the country has failed to stop HIV infection among Filipino men who have sex with men and transgenders from reaching epidemic level. Data shows that OFWs are no longer the drivers of the epidemic, but HIV infection is still rising among Filipino migrant workers. In the last two years, the Philippines has also seen a marked increase in infections among people who inject drugs. The National Capital Region (NCR) and other urban centers, especially Cebu, Davao, Batangas, and Baguio, are likewise breaching past epidemic targets that the country has actually committed to prevent.

"The DOH has warned that a 500% increase in HIV infection is likely to happen under the Aquino administration. This alarming increase is the message: inaction is no longer an option.

"The steps that the government should take to reverse the trend and prevent the explosion of an HIV epidemic are crystal-clear: it must increase support for programmes and services, especially evidence-based preventive interventions such as safer-sex education, condom use, and harm reduction; it must ensure sustainable HIV and STI treatment, care and support for Filipinos living with HIV; it must protect and promote the human rights of people living with HIV and of populations and communities that are vulnerable to the virus, especially men who have sex with men, transgenders, people who inject drugs, and sex workers; it must address the climate of stigma that is attached to the HIV epidemic, which has made it more difficult for effective HIV services to reach the affected populations and communities; and, it must scale up its political commitment to stop HIV and AIDS.

"We believe that the HIV epidemic in the Philippines can still be halted and reversed. But that cannot happen without the government rallying its political will and its resources behind the fight to eliminate HIV and AIDS.

Signed:

Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc.
LADLAD Party List
National Federation of Filipino Living with HIV and AIDS (NaFFWA)
Pinoy Plus Association
Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI)
S.H.I.N.E. SOCCSKSARGEN, Inc.
TLF SHARE Collective
Youth AIDS Filipinas Alliance, Inc. (YAFA)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Heart of Summer, a short story

On the first day of April, we moved to a row house in a subdivision carved out of the Antipolo hills. A row house is a nice word for houses that somehow managed to fit into 120-square-meter lots. They looked like matchboxes, really, built near the riverbank. The larger houses, of course, stood grandly at the center of the village, in front of the chapel. We’d be renting the house from the mayor’s mistress, one of three houses she owned there.

The living room of the house spilled over into the kitchen. The house only had two tiny rooms, but it was enough for us. The owner of the apartment we had been renting in Project 4 wrote to us (in pink stationery with the letterhead “Dr. Antonina Raquiza, Ph. D.”) to say that she’d raise the monthly rent to five thousand. If we couldn’t agree to her new terms, we’d have two months to leave. Mama glared at the letter, then said something obscene about our landlady’s father. A day later, she began poring over the ads, looking for cheaper rent in …

A teacher's tales

by Danton Remoto
Remote Control
www.abs-cbn.com/news

I’ve been teaching for 22 years – the longest job I’ve had. This will be my last year of teaching. I will take sabbatical leave beginning April 2009 – a paid leave for one year that senior professors take every seven years, to sleep the sleep of the and come back to school fully energized. But in my case, I will not just sleep and read and gain weight. I will spend my sabbatical leave organizing Ang Ladlad’s campaign, and my own political campaign, for the May 2010 elections.

But because I stayed here longest, that means I love this job. I admire those who’ve spent 30, 40 years teaching without repeating themselves. They’ve taught for 30, 40 different years, not just one year repeated 30, 40 times. Teachers like the now-departed Dr. Doreen G. Fernandez and the retired, but still teaching, Professor Emmanuel “Eric” Torres come to mind. Both have taught with us at the English Department of the Ateneo de Manila University.

Doreen and Eric …

Review of "Pulotgata" The Love Poems"

This is a review of my book that I just read in the Internet today. It was written by Ralph Semino Galan of UST and was published in the Inquirer. It comes in two parts.

Honeymooning with Words, Part I
by Ralph Semino Galan

Love is a favorite subject among Filipino poets, regardless of gender. For despite the influx of modern and postmodern ideologies, the pervasive influence of the Romantic spirit is still prevalent in Philippine literature, especially in poetry. It therefore comes as no surprise that even a gay-identified writer like Danton Remoto has composed extensively verses expressing the intricacies of love and lust, desire and devotion, passion and compassion.

In his third book of poetry aptly titled "Pulotgata: The Love Poems" (Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc, 2004, 88 pages), Remoto delves the depths of the human heart through lyrics in English and Filipino that sing of the anxiety and the excitement, the agony and the ecstasy which accompany the act of love.

The …