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PIA Press Release

Program package to address OFWs' HIV woes

by A. Lumaque

Roxas City (3 April) -- A Letter of Understanding on the Joint Programme on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Migration was signed by the government and the United Nations System last March 29 to curb the growing number of HIV infected Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) today.

The joint programme, led by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), is a comprehensive package of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support that can benefit the OFWs and their community in the national level, as well as local development interventions in selected provinces.

In Capiz, a council on HIV-AIDS will be organized by the provincial government this month in support to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) aimed to combat the disease by year 2015.

The organization of the council is mandated in Capiz Gov. Vicente Bermejo's executive order in response to the MDG and the country's declaration of commitment on HIV/AIDS.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said, "DOH is aggressively bridging the gap in terms of access to comprehensive HIV and AIDS services. In May 2006, we began providing generic antiretroviral drugs for free to all patients. This is being done through DOH procurement and the generous assistance we receive from the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria," he added.

As of today, HIV infected OFWs already reached 35% of the total cumulative cases, and 42% of the newly-reported cases in 2006. Although HIV situation in the country remains low, the most recent estimate placed the number of HIV infection at 11,200 as of December 2005.

Duque also said that there are at present 241 persons living with HIV (PLWH) enrolled in the free antiretroviral program of DOH. The health department hopes to further scale this up and is encouraging people infected by HIV and AIDS to avail of the free services of the program. (PIA) [top]

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