HIV-AIDS convention in Davao City slated Oct. 6-7
Davao City (6 October) -- How is the Philippines faring in its national response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic? What are the new initiatives being undertaken to heighten awareness on the oft-misunderstood disease? Is the country all set up to scale up its HIV and AIDS response?
Representatives from the health sector, government, non-government organizations, private institutions and several organizations under the United Nations will converge here today and tomorrow (Oct. 6-7) for the 8th Philippine National Convention on AIDS to be held at Royal Mandaya Hotel where issues surrounding the epidemic will be discussed.
Dubbed "Scaling Up Responses on HIV and AIDS," the conference hopes to come-up with workable action points to address what is now described as "hidden and growing" problem.
The two-day conference is organized by AIDS Society of the Philippines in partnership with UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNFPA, WHO and the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC). About 600 participants from all over the country are expected to attend.
Experts from government and the civil society sectors will share insights on wide-ranging topics such as management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), local programs to prevent HIV and AIDS in Southern Philippines, medical management of HIV and AIDS and faith-based perspective on HIV and AIDS, among other topics.
UNDP Country Representative Nileema Noble and UNICEF Country Representative Nick Alipui will discuss about children and HIV/AIDS. The two top UN officials will also lead the formal launching of Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign in Davao.
Health undersecretary Ethelyn Nieto, who will represent Health secretary Francisco Duque, is expected to give the Philippine government's commitment to the global response on HIV/AIDS. Duque is the chair of PNAC.
The government is a signatory to the UN General Assembly Special Session (or UNGASS) Declaration on HIV/AIDS and the Millenium Development Goals on (MDG) on HIV/AIDS.
Since the first case of HIV was detected in the Philippines in 1984, over 2,500 have been officially reported by the end of June this year. But the Department of Health estimates 11,200 people are living with HIV in the Philippines.
In Davao City, there had been 17 documented cases on HIV and AIDS, 8 of whom had already succumbed to its complications.
Although the currently-known HIV infection level in the Philippines is low, risk factors for HIV infection, also call the "Red Flags," indicate fast growing hidden epidemic significant of which is the lack of information by the general population on HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support and the increasing number of young people acquiring sexually transmitted infections.
Organizers of the convention said the country has to seize the moment and take necessary actions to prevent HIV and AIDS from affecting more Filipinos. (UNICEF/PIA-XI/ET Isidro) [top]