Friday, 17 April 2015


QUEZON CITY, Philippines—the National Epidemiology Center under the Department of Health concluded in its recent studies and statistics that the National Capital Region comprises 42% of the total HIV-AIDS infections in the country; the largest part of the infection being in Quezon City.

The highest prevalence rate of HIV infection is among MSMS.  In 10 years from 1999 to 2009, a 25 percent increase in the prevalence of HIV-AIDS has been observed and reported by the DOH. Ninety six percent (96 percent) of the cases are male, majority of whom (57 percent) are in the 20-29 years old age group. The predominant type of sexual transmission (85 percent) is by MSMs/ homosexuals, followed by bisexuals and heterosexuals. By year end, government epidemiologists project that HIV cases in the country could exceed 30,000 cases. (DOH NEC 2014)

The HIV infection rate in Quezon City is mostly due to low rates of consistent condom use, a lack of HIV testing and failure to initiate the MSMs on anti-retroviral therapy and to retention of infected individuals to treatment.  Even more alarming, information efforts on HIV and AIDS have not reached about 77 percent of the population.

‘’The situation demands not only more robust responses to increase access to and coverage of MSMs for a comprehensive package of prevention, diagnostic, treatment, care and support services, but also a focused communication effort to encourage more health-seeking behavior,’’ said Garin.

In response to the alarming HIV situation, the Department of Health, the Quezon City government, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today (Dec. 5) signed at Rembrand Hotel in Quezon City a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly undertake a comprehensive communication program to encourage HIV testing among populations at higher risk in Quezon City, especially among males who have sex with other males (MSMs).

The communication program be headed and administered by the QC local government and will focus on urging MSMs to get tested and go back for the results, and to use condoms and lube properly when engaging in sexual activities.  If MSMs are positive on HIV, they are admonished to undergo full treatment.  The program will also push MSMs to get tested at Klinika Bernardo, a specialized Social Hygiene Clinic under the Quezon City Health Department. The clinic caters especially to MSMs providing them with free counseling, testing and treatment.

‘’This program will help increase voluntary HIV counseling and testing, so that MSMs will be vigilant not only in getting tested but in actually knowing the results and undertaking the necessary follow-up tests, diagnosis, treatment and if needed, psycho-social support/counseling. These health and non­health services are provided through the Service Delivery Network for People Living with HIV, services which are available in Quezon City but are not widely known,’’ QC Mayor Herbert Bautista explained.

The communication program will prioritize the physical enhancement of Klinika Bernardo to make it attractive to MSMs. A digital and online campaign to promote a healthier lifestyle and to extend the reach of Klinika Bernardo’s services shall also be covered by the program which will be funded and executed through the DOH and USAID’s national health communication project called CHANGE (Communication for Health Advancement through Networking and Government Enhancement),  from October 2014 to September 2015.




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