Monday, March 29, 2010

Parliamentarians call for lifting travel restrictions for people living

UNAIDS and the Inter-Parliamentary Union join forces to urge countries to eliminate HIV related restrictions on entry, stay and residence and reduce stigma and discrimination

BANGKOK, 28 March 2010 – Parliamentarians from all parts of world are calling upon governments to remove travel restrictions for people living with HIV. This call was made at the 122nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Bangkok today.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNAIDS are urging parliamentarians in countries with such restrictions to play a leading role in removing them. The two organizations also encourage parliamentarians to support legislation and law enforcement to protect people living with HIV from discrimination based on HIV status.

“By placing restrictions on the travel and movement of people living with HIV, we needlessly rob them of their dignity and equal rights,” said Theo-Ben Gurirab, President of the Inter- Parliamentary Union. “Parliamentarians have a duty to protect the rights of all citizens, including people living with HIV.

There are 52 countries, territories and areas that have some form of HIV-specific restriction on entry, stay and residence that is based on positive HIV status. These include restrictions that completely ban entry of HIV-positive people for any reason or length of stay; or ban short stays, for example for tourism, or longer stays for immigration, migrant work, asylum, study, international employment, or consular service.

“Travel restrictions for people living with HIV do not protect public health and are outdated in the age of universal access to HIV prevention and treatment,” said Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director. “Parliamentarians can play a vital role in removing discriminatory laws and restrictions.”

In July 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated the long-standing United Nations call for the elimination of HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence. UNAIDS is closely monitoring which countries continue to employ them and has designated 2010 as the “year of equal freedom of movement for all”.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Labor department to issue HIV/AIDS memo

By: Sun Star, Philippines

MANILA -- The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) will soon release guidelines for companies on how to address the occurrence of HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

The draft memorandum “Guidelines for the Implementation of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Policy and Program in the Workplace,” will be submitted next week to Secretary Marianito Roque for approval.

The guidelines will focus on information and education, integration of HIV policy on the companies’ Occupation and Safety Health (OSH) standards, training of personnel, establishment of an HIV/AIDS center, and voluntary distribution of condoms, among others.

“The program is also in deference to the provisions stated in Republic Act 8504 or the AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998,” said Dr. Ma.Teresita Cucueco, OIC - Executive Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Center of DOLE.

A June 2008 survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that only 26 percent or equivalent to 6,368 out of 24,457 companies in the Philippines had set-up HIV/AIDS policies and programs.

A similar move was done by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to address the issue of HIV/AIDS in government offices but the draft circular has yet to pass the approval of the CSC board.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) said the disease increases business costs like increased burden of healthcare provision, lower productivity of infected employees, increased risks in the workplace and indifference among employees.

(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Unfazed Cabral orders $8m worth of condoms

THE government is using $8 million from the $19-million Global Fund grant to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to buy condoms from the United Nations, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said Sunday.

“If it’s from the UN, a condom costs only P1.50 to P2, but if we are going to get it from commercial sources, it will cost P7 up to P10,” Cabral told a health forum sponsored by the Philippine College of Physicians.

She said the Health Department had P63 million last year to help prevent the spread of AIDS, but it had so far spent nothing to buy condoms.

“We are still using funds from the international aid agency called the Global Fund whose biggest donor is Bill Gates [to buy condoms],” Cabral said.

Catholic bishops slammed Cabral and asked President Gloria Arroyo to sack her after she distributed condoms in Sampaloc, Manila, on Valentine’s Day eve, saying she was immoral, but Cabral said they could not stop her from campaigning to prevent AIDS.
She said the Philippines committed to buying condoms and to launching a program to fight HIV-AIDS when it accepted the Global Fund grant.

“The consistent and correct use of condoms is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of HIV, which could lead to full-blown AIDS,” Cabral said.

Did she still receive communion despite her quarrel with the bishops?
“I receive communion when there is occasion to receive communion, but when there is no occasion to receive communion, I don’t lose sleep over [it],” she said.

The opposition to condoms had affected the government’s drive against AIDS and had led to a significant rise in HIV cases, Cabral said.

Edsel Salvana, a consultant at the Sagip HIV/AIDS clinic at the Philippine General Hospital, said 90 percent of all HIV cases were sexually transmitted.

“If condoms were being promoted adequately, we would not be experiencing rising HIV cases,” he said.

Figures showed that HIV cases worldwide declined by 17 percent from 2001 to 2010, but the number of cases in the Philippines rose 334 percent in the same period and by 400 percent in 2009, when 835 cases were recorded, Salvana said. The number of HIV cases here could reach more than 25,000 by 2019.

“If the doubling rate [of HIV cases] continues, we will have 1,600 cases by 2011, 3,200 cases by 2013, 6,400 cases by 2015, and 25,000 cases by 2019,” Salvana said.

By: Macon Ramos Araneta, Manila Standard


Monday, March 15, 2010

AIDS in RP a full-blown epidemic — DoST scientist

Manila Bulletin


Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) cases in the country have increased dramatically and the disease is now in the midst of a full-blown epidemic, a Department of Science and Technology (DoST) balik-scientist said Friday.

DoST scientist Dr. Edsel Salvaña, also a doctor at the SAGIP HIV/AIDS Clinic, said more and more patients are showing up at the AIDS facility located at the Philippine General Hospital. She noted that in May last year alone, 80 patients were diagnosed with AIDS.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Philippines used to be a low prevalence area, with only 4,218 confirmed cases in 1984. However, the cases ballooned to 12,000 in 2005.

The HIV/AIDS Registry in the Philippines, on the other hand, revealed that in 2000, the rate was one new case every three days. In 2007, it increased to one new case a day and finally, the rate became two new cases a day in 2009.

“We have a very big problem. If the rate of doubling continues, there will be over 20,000 new cases per year by 2020. The cost to treat each person is US$200-300 a month, not counting loss of productivity and life expectancy,” Salvaña said.

HIV/AIDS can be contracted through sexual contact, blood transfusion, drug use injection, needle prick injury, and genetics (mother-to-child).

Those who are most at risk are homosexuals, followed by bisexuals, and heterosexuals, respectively.

What makes this epidemic more alarming is that very few health workers trained formally in treating AIDS/HIV. Because the social stigma is tremendous, some doctors are even reluctant to treat patients. Salvaña said that some people do not even want to be in the same room with a patient.

“This prompted the physicians involved to initiate emergency measures and improve the clinic facilities and ramp up prevention strategies,” said Salvaña.

Education is the key to prevent this epidemic and to hasten its spread. Media also has a big role in promoting awareness among the people.

“Abstinence is most effective, but condom use is the next most effective method,” related Salvaña.

The Red Party, founded by Salvaña, has been in the forefront of these efforts, and was featured in an international publication as a dynamic force in advocating stronger programs and support for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

“The DoST, through the Balik Scientist Program, is essential in the transfer of knowledge and in setting collaborations with international partners. Research collaboration will help catalyze solutions to the problem early in the epidemic. Investment with money and know-how is important in controlling and defeating the disease. We need all the help we can get,” said Salvaña.

The Red Party is planning to conduct an HIV/AIDS summit this year, which involves local stakeholders and international partners who will craft solutions to the current epidemic. Centers for research in HIV/AIDS will also be set up

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Friday, March 12, 2010

28% of young Filipinos think AIDS curable

DepEd, Unicef to use video to fight HIV, AIDS First Posted 09:55:00 03/11/2010

MANILA, Philippines—As many young Filipinos are misinformed about the fatal HIV and the full-blown AIDS, the Department of Education and Unicef have partnered to use a video to fight this ignorance, as well as the rising number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) cases.

The 2003 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey (YAFSS) said that 28 percent of young Filipino adults thought that acquired immuno deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is curable while 73 percent thought that they are immune to human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV).

Recent findings of the Department of Health’s AIDS Registry also revealed that infections among 15- to 24-year-old Filipinos increased five-fold from 41 in 2007 to 218 in 2009. Overall prevalence of pre-marital sexual activity also increased from 18 to 23 percent between 1994 and 2002.

Recognizing children’s right to information at the right time to enable them to lead happy, healthy lives, DepEd and Unicef on Wednesday launched Power of You, an interactive video intended to help young people, particularly high school students, learn about risky behaviors, STI, HIV, and AIDS.

The video follows the story of Francis and Sara, typical teens who face big challenges every day. Being interactive, it allows users to choose the path that their characters will take, through decision points depicting drama and humor of a normal teenager’s life. It carries the message for young people to delay sexual debut and educate themselves and their peers about HIV and STIs.

“Today, young people learn things better if information is presented to them in a novel and exciting way, and Power of You does just that. It is designed to raise awareness on STI and HIV among young people in a fun and interactive light. It motivates them to choose life-saving actions and focuses on the power of individual choice to make their dreams and ambitions come true,” said Unicef Representative Vanessa Tobin at the launch of the video.

According to the Unicef briefer, the campaign will involve the conduct of learning sessions using the interactive video. In a learning session, a trained facilitator will guide high school students in “Choosing the Life” of a teenager.

The main characters in the video will experience significant situations which require critical decisions. The students will be asked to decide the fate of the main character. Each choice will result in a new situation. The facilitator will give appropriate information bits after each decision. The project will be rolled out and implemented by DepEd with assistance from Unicef within the year.

“The Department of Education signifies its commitment to a long-term, sustainable program targeting education and prevention. We are encouraging teachers to integrate programs like Power of You in their school improvement plans and foster an environment of openness wherein young people can talk about the problems that they typically encounter as they go about teenage life,” said DepEd’s Bureau of Secondary Education Director Dr. Lolita Andrada.

The Power of You campaign is initially piloted in 29 public schools in Metro Manila, the cities of Cebu, Davao, Zamboanga, and Olongapo, and Masbate. The campaign aims to reach at least 12,000 high school students in the first year of 2010.

The Philippines is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely signed international treaty safeguarding children’s rights.

Veronica Uy

For more info, check this link:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cabral of DOH: Wrong to say that condoms are a health hazard

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Interviews of Health Secretary Cabral, Catholic Bishops, WHO official and Dr Acosta


QTV: Health Sec. Cabral ready to debate with Catholic leaders on condoms issue

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

03/09/2010 | 12:55 PM


Palace exec to bishops: Don’t dictate on condom use

03/09/2010 10:36 AM

The word war between the government and Philippine Catholic bishops on the use of condoms took another turn on Tuesday after a Malacañang official called on the men of the cloth not to "dictate" on their flock.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Charito Planas said the people must have the option to use condoms, including to decide how to plan their families.

"Huwag naman magdikta, hayaan ang tao pumili ng iba-ibang pamamaraan. Give the people a choice, di yung sasabihin ito lang gawin mo. Dictatorship yun (Don't dictate. Give the people a chance to choose, otherwise that would be dictatorship)," Planas said in an interview on dzXL radio.

"Even some Christians are using condoms," she said, adding that condoms being offered by the government are not meant to induce abortion.

"Kailangan talaga ang family planning. Di sinasabing mag-abort ka, sinasabing planuhin mo (Family planning is needed here. We are not encouraging abortion, we are encouraging family planning)," she said.
Planas also questioned whether officials of the Catholic Church live up to their position, saying some of its bishops had also fathered children.

"Yung sa simbahan sa kanilang parte meron ding nagkakaanak (Some men of the cloth have fathered children)," she added.

According to her, the Philippines is a democracy, unlike in China where authorities impose on parents the maximum number of children they can have.

"In China where there is no democracy, authorities dictate how many children a family can have. Here, we make babies if we have nothing better to do. So if you cannot avoid having sex, use what you have to," she said.

On Monday, Catholic bishops said they are not keen on entering into any compromise regarding the use of condoms and other forms of contraceptives to control population growth. [See: No compromise on condom use]

Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III said there is simply no compromise when it comes to the Church’s teachings.

Last weekend, Catholic bishops challenged Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral to a debate on whether condoms are effective in preventing human immunodeficiency virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-AIDS).

Cabral accepted the challenge but asked for clear ground rules so the debate will not turn into a religious exchange. — LBG/RSJ, GMANews.Tv


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ex-call center agent shares his HIV story

Lumantad ang isang 20 anyos na dating call center agent para amining positibo siya sa HIV! Nakuha raw nya ito sa pakikipagtalik sa iba’t ibang partner nang di gumagamit ng kahit anung proteksyon. Nagpapatrol, Niña Corpuz. TV Patrol World, Lunes, Marso 1, 2010


Groups involved in HIV-AIDS campaign support Sec. Cabral

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV