Get Tested, Get Treatment.. FAST

Posted by Pozziepinoy on 6:51 AM
HIV is still on the rise in the Philippines. Last year, the Department of Health's Epidemiology Bureau had reported continued increase of new HIV cases in the country. What is more alarming is the increase in the number of cases among the 15-24 age group: those who are in high school, college and the young employees. 

There are several factors contributing to this continued spike. 


One is the stigma and discrimination brought about by the disease itself. People are scared to be associated with HIV and AIDS because they don't want to identified first and foremost with a disease that used to be associated with being gay which of course nowadays, even the heterosexuals get infected by it, or most people don't want to be branded as promiscuous or have not learned that unprotected sex can lead to a lot of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. Because of HIV and AIDS, people are scared to be called "morally dirty" by society thus the fear to get tested or even to get early treatment. The fear to get early diagnosis leads to continuous transmission of the deadly infection especially to those who don't use protection, those who continuously have multiple partners, and continuous use of alcohol and drugs while having sex.

Education when it comes to HIV and AIDS is not strong in the Philippines with strong social stigma brought about by religion. Up to now, the Department of Education, even with the clamour to add the HIV and AIDS perspective into the curriculum starting from high school, is still not implemented. Weak awareness about HIV, the HIV test and its processes, the HIV and AIDS treatment and the life after having HIV is weak, and this directly contributes to the growing epidemic.

Condom use is not advertised in mass media nor given for free in public schools. Up to now, there is even stigma with condoms in the Philippines, even though its use is one strong protection against the spread of HIV. Religion is a barrier in a country where there is a very strong Catholic influence.

When it comes to services, there are now more than 100 HIV testing centers although in a country with more than 7,100 islands with over a hundred and ten million Filipinos, these facilities are not enough. The HIV and AIDS treatment hubs are not decentralized and access to HIV treatment is still hard. There are only a few HIV doctors in the country and the equipments for CD4 and Viral Load Tests, both needed in diagnostic and progress of treatment are still lacking in most facilities.

Welfare programs for HIV and AIDS is very limited and sometimes scarce in the country with the general population belonging to below the poverty line. There are only a handful of organizations that offer free shelter to those who got evicted or discriminated or to those overseas Filipino workers who got deported from the middle east, Singapore or other muslim countries who can't go home because of fear of discrimination.

Though there is RA 8504 or the HIV Law, there is no proper or enough implementation of it. Punishment for those who continuously transmitting the disease to others, those who continue to disclose HIV status of others and the proper implementation of the HIV in the workplace policy which have been stated in the Law and assigned to the Department of Labor and Employment for implementation which gives protection to employees, are still not being enforced nor instituted.

The Project Red Ribbon has been serving the HIV community and the general population and for four years since the advocacy started, the progress of policies regarding stigma and discrimination, the improvement of education system and the improvement HIV and AIDS services, still are very slow, as compared with the growing increase. Up to now, the Philippines is one of the handful countries where HIV cases are still on the rise. In the country, people are still dying of AIDS because of late diagnosis and late treatment. Some die because they can't afford the medicines for the AIDS-related infections, not HIV per se since HIV medicines are free. Non-adherence to treatment result from inability to continue these expensive medications, laboratory tests and hospitalizations for those who have AIDS-related infections. 

Still there are solutions. Get an early HIV test. Don't wait. Once a person had unprotected sex with somebody with undisclosed HIV status, take the HIV test fast. Go and get counselling. You can talk to our online counselors to direct you to the nearest HIV testing facility. 

Get treatment fast. Don't wait. Once diagnosed, go to the nearest HIV and AIDS treatment hub and get a consultation with the HIV doctor. In the government hubs, consultation is free. Most baseline tests are also free. HIV medicine or antiretrovirals are also free. During the initial infection phase there maybe flu like symptoms or non at all. Please don't wait for HIV to lead to a full blown AIDS. Don't wait for symptoms to come out and spend for more expensive treatment for these AIDS-reated infections.

Let us all come together and stop the spread of HIV in the country. Let us all be aware, get tested and get an early treatment. We all can, if we start paying attention, We all can, if we are concerned with all our friends, colleagues, family members and class mates. We all can, if we help others, by educating them, by teaching others to use condoms, by talking about HIV and AIDS!



QUESTIONS ABOUT HIV AND AIDS?
WANT TO GET TESTED?
CALL US!

TRR HIV Hotline Numbers 


0928-908-6288
0977-131-2046
0906-389-2402
 0917-899-0473
0927-823-0300 
0917-932-3122
0916-216-2066

If you want to join a private HIV support group in Facebook, please add our Online Care Manager, Tomasito Ang Suta, or our Program Coordinator, Keren Augustin C. Blances and request to be added in the group. We have a lot of PLHIV, counselors, HIV doctors, advocates and supporters who you can talk to.






"SPREADING COMPASSION"

-Project Red Ribbon-



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