In the past 30 years, more than 1,000 of the country’s reported HIV cases are among Filipinos aged 19 and younger, the Department of Health found. In fact, 85 of them are children.
How did this happen?
Misinformation is among the culprits.
So can we beat HIV and AIDS? Save the Children believes so, especially among adolescents. And our first and strongest defense is education.
The Philippines has one of the world’s fastest-growing HIV epidemics.
As of June 2016, the Philippines has around 34,999 reported HIV cases.
In June 2016, there were 841 new HIV antibody sero-positive individuals reported. This is 9% higher compared to the same period in 2015. In fact, this was the highest number of cases ever reported since 1984.
Ninety-five percent of such cases were male. More than half were ages 25 to 34. Meanwhile, 27% were only 15 to 24 years old. The number could be even higher as some Filipinos go untested, unaware of their HIV status.
How is HIV transmitted?
- Unprotected sex.
- An HIV-positive mother can infect her baby during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and breastfeeding.
- Blood transfusion wherein the donor is infected.
- Sharing infected needles (i.e., during drug use).
All these, however, are preventable.
Through the Global Fund, Save the Children and HIV advocates joined together in preventing HIV transmissions by providing communities with better access to treatment care, testing, information, counselling and support.
The first important step is to get tested and know the result, without shame and stigma.
Many high risk individuals are afraid to be tested and know the results because they fear judgment from families, friends, employers, and even health workers.
People who have or may HIV/AIDS, face a tremendous amount of discrimination in different areas of life. They get discriminated at home and workplace because of their HIV status. Thus, there is a need to raise the bar in awareness raising in their communities, families and friends.
To raise awareness, we partnered with The Red Whistle, a local HIV advocacy group. “We need to change people’s mindsets and behavior,” said Dr Kate Leyritana of The Red Whistle.
Among the celebrity advocates supporting our cause are actor JC Santos, actress Cherie Gil, and musician Jay Contreras. They’re also encouraging everyone, especially the families, to keep the conversation about HIV and AIDS going.
PARTNERSHIPS. Ned Olney, Save the Children Philippines Country Director, wears a red whistle as a symbol of his support for the HIV/AIDS advocacy. Olney stresses the importance of partnerships in the success of campaigns.
“We got a lot of work to do,” said Ned Olney, Save the Children Philippines Country Director. “We need you to be able to bring this message out.”
Olney also encourages the Filipino youth to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS, highlighting the power and influence of social media.
Aside from fighting HIV/AIDS, Save the Children is delivering various life-saving and life-changing programs to children and their families. We focus on health, education, and child protection.