Children now priority of AIDS prevention campaign
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (7 October) -- Believed to be the missing face of the long-time campaign to prevent cases of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines, the government with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has now recognized the need of involving the children as the newest priority of the AIDS program.
In the 8th Philippine National Convention on AIDS held in this city yesterday, the different stakeholders in the movement for AIDS prevention committed to scale up the response on HIV/AIDS by tapping the less-informed sector in the society - the children.
Dr. Nicholas Alipui of the UNICEF admitted how insufficient the funding is that targets the children's sector. "The AIDS program of the government is highly targeting the adolescent bracket never realizing that the best way to cut the number of AIDS cases is by educating the young or the children about this disease because awareness, we believe, could lessen the child to exhibit risk behavior." he said.
Studies showed that most Filipino children don't know that their parents are living with HIV. Brought by the stigma given to person infected by AIDS, victims keep the truth from their children and other family members.
During the forum, where young students were present, a child stood up and curiously asked the panel as to what would happen to a child who is infected with HIV.
One innocent question was followed by the several follow-ups which triggered the panel members to comment that there is a need to let the young be aware on the AIDS issue.
Besides awareness, data also showed that the pediatric anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) are not yet available in the Philippines.
Officials of the Department of Health (DOH) claimed that the are already pediatric ARVs in three hospitals in Metro Manila, though some are not yet disposed for children victims due to the pending final guidelines.
DOH Undersecretary Ethelyn Nieta explained that pediatric ARVs are still of limited supply in selected hospitals due to the cost and to the less demand.
"We hope to put in ARV supply in our regional hospitals. In the meantime, we have not yet received any case of a child victim that would need pediatric ARV. We can only have those if somebody comes to us and ask for it." said DOH XI director Jean Paulyn Ubial.
Meanwhile, the different sectors involved in the AIDS prevention movements are recognizing the need to tap the missing face in the said movement and integrate their needs to the various activities these groups have lined up.
The Unite for Children Unite Against AIDS program doesn't just include children infected with HIV but even those not infected but are children of infected parents. The PNAC recognizes how families are torn apart and how children's lives are destroyed as one of their parents fall sick or die.
The UNICEF is pushing for the 4 P's as they go about the AIDS program in the Philippines. It includes prevention of infection among children, prevent of mother to child transmission, provision of a support service for children infected with AIDS, and provision of a pediatric treatment. (PIA) [top]