Friday, August 19, 2011

Quick Reference Guide for Returning OFWs

This Quick Reference Guide for Returning OFWs is intended for returning overseas Filipino workers who are HIV-positive. The Guide lists essential legal, social, medical, spiritual, educational and financial assistance provided by government and non-government welfare organizations.

You may download the QRG at

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

KA JAM: Kabataan (Youth) Jobs and Alternatives to Migration

In line with the International Youth Day celebration, the MDG F Joint Programme on Alternatives to Migration: Decent Jobs for Filipino Youth is organizing an event titled “Kabataan: Jobs and Alternatives to Migration” or KA JAM. It will serve as a platform for the presentation of the key youth employment and migration priorities to His Excellency President Benigno Aquino III who will be the Keynote Speaker.
When12 August 2011
WhereSMX Convention Center, Pasay City, Philippines
Regions and countries coveredAsia; Philippines
Unit responsibleILO Country Office for the Philippines
Subjectsdecent work, employment, youth employment, young workers


In line with the International Youth Day celebration, the MDG Fund Joint Programme on Alternatives to Migration: Decent Work for Filipino Youth is organizing an event titled “Kabataan: Jobs and Alternatives to Migration” or KA JAM. This will be held on Friday, 12 August 2011, at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia in Pasay City. It will serve as a platform for the presentation of the key youth employment and migration priorities to His Excellency President Benigno Aquino III who will be the Keynote Speaker.

This event also coincides with the culmination of the International Year of the Youth. The United Nations recognizes that young people in all countries are a major human resource for development, positive social change and technological innovation. Their ideals, energy and vision are essential for the continuing development of their societies. Young people are not merely passive beneficiaries but effective agents of change. Dedicated, enthusiastic and creative, youth have been contributing to development by addressing society’s most challenging issues. In line with the United Nation’s commitment, the joint programme aims to contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) employment indicators (MDGs) by the Government of the Philippines, specifically: MDG 1 Target 1 B: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.


The Philippines is known to have a dominantly young population with 19.3 per cent of its total population of 88 million (NSO, 2007) falling between the ages 15 – 24 years old. Of this, many young Filipinos are of working age. However, unemployment in the country is largely concentrated among young workers which in 2010 comprised more than half (1.460 million or 51.1%) of the total unemployed. This resulted to an unemployment rate of 17.6 per cent which was more than twice the national rate of 7.5 per cent. Double-digit unemployment rate was also noted among the college educated at about 11 per cent. Accounting for 1.163 million or 41.1 per cent of total unemployed in 2009, most of them have high “reservation wage” and consequently can afford to be unemployed or wait for better job offers.

Education is a first step to decent work and employment opportunities a second. In the Philippines, the drop-out rates at the public secondary education level is high. It is observed that for every 10 students that enter first year high school, only four graduate and finish fourth year high school. Unfortunately, both young women and men are at risk of dropping out of school due to poverty. Out-of-School Youths (OSY) and students at risk of dropping-out (SARDO) are forced to join the labor force to provide income for their families while women are faced with traditional child-rearing and housekeeping responsibilities that have also hindered young women from completing secondary education.

Meanwhile youth comprise about 35% of all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) which translates to a significant “youth” share in the national financial inflows associated with migration. While migration brings significant economic benefits, it also entails social costs to children. Children of migrant workers are left in the care of surrogate parents and are reported to contribute to a high-drop-out rate due to a diminishing interest to finish school, work or build a career, and a tendency to be overly dependent on remittances and are enticed to join parents to work overseas. Young workers outside the country expose themselves to the risks of migration such as exploitation and human trafficking especially among women.

With the support from the Government of Spain, the Joint Programme on Alternatives to Migration: Decent Jobs for Filipino Youth under the thematic window of youth employment and migration, better known as “JP YEM”, was developed by the UN Country Team agencies (ILO, IOM, UNICEF and UNFPA) in support to the Philippine Government’s vision of a productive and competitive youth. Specifically, it aims to achieve two outcomes over a period of three years: Outcome 1. Improved policy coherence and implementation on youth employment and migration through full stakeholder participation, in which the following outputs are expected and Outcome 2. Increased access to decent work for poor, young women and men.

The Joint Programme also aims to contribute to the attainment by the Government of the Philippines of the Millennium Development Goals: MDG 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; MDG 3 – Promote gender equality and empower women; and MDG 8 – Develop a global partnership for development. At the local government level, it provides direct services in the poorest regions of the country, focusing on four provinces with high incidences of out-of-school and poor youth, low enrolment rates, and where the MDGs , particularly Goal 1, are least likely to be achieved: Masbate (Region V), Antique (Region VI), Maguindanao (ARMM), and Agusan del Sur (CARAGA Region).

It is implemented in partnership with national government agencies with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as lead implementing agency, the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), National Youth Commission (NYC; the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); Provincial Governments of Agusan del Sur, Antique, Masbate, and Maguindanao; Private sector; Employers Organizations/Chambers of Commerce/Business Associations; NGOs/Workers’ Organizations; and Youth Organizations.


One of the major strategies to achieve the joint programme outcomes is the development and implementation of an advocacy and communications plan that will help persuade key decision makers and multi-stakeholders to address the various concerns surrounding the youth, employment and migration both at the national and local government level.

In March 2011, an Advocacy and Communications Planning Workshop was conducted at the TESDA women’s center to develop a plan that would support Output 1.1 the formulation and adoption of a National Action Agenda/Plan on youth employment and migration to inform local and national development processes. This was based on the premise that the Strategy Paper on YEM being prepared by DOLE Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) will have outlined key policy priorities that would include among others: a) Efficient labor market information systems to help the youth make smarter career choices, based on a proactive exchange of information among players in the labor market; b)Responsive career coaching and training modalities as preparatory measures intended to set the stage for the youth for the world of work; c) Strengthen Local Development Opportunities by advocating local government institutions to providing the policy environment for promoting youth employment in their community; d) Youth Awareness of Workers’ Rights and the World of Work to help reduce their vulnerabilities that may affect their rights at work, access to employment, social protection and social dialogue; e) Foster active, vibrant and sustainable partnerships with the private sector in terms of sharing resources and providing opportunities for entrepreneurship, training and employment; f) Harness development gains of migration and mitigating its social costs to strengthen youth employment policies and programmes; g) Championing the Youth as Partners in Development to influence policy and programs through active participation and leadership in affairs concerning youth employment and migration.

One of the key activities identified was the conduct of a high impact event on International Youth Day on 12 August 2011. This also marks the end of the ILO’s declaration of the International Year of the Youth (2010 – 2011). This one –day event is expected to be the platform for the presentation of the key priorities that will be the foundation for the development of the National Action Plan for YEM. The event will also have topic specific breakout sessions to discuss the recommendations of the strategy paper. The event hopes to attract 500 YEM advocates from government agencies, academe, youth groups, trade unions, employer’s groups and the development community and other interested stakeholders

For further information please contact

Ms Ruth Honculada-Georget
Joint Programme Coordinator
ILO Project on Alternatives for Migration: Decent Work Opportunities for Filipino Youth
10th Floor, GE Antonino Building
J. Bocobo corner T. M. Kalaw Streets, Ermita, Manila
Tel: +63 2 525 4483

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Be the Change: A Solidarity Speech

International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, Manila, Philippines, May 27, 2011

June 29, 2011

The Philippines is one of the seven countries worldwide that is experiencing an alarming rise in HIV. The situation is made worse by the fact that the government is nowhere to be seen when it comes to investing in prevention, care, treatment and support services for the people who need it the most. To this day HIV services in the Philippines are heavily reliant on foreign aid.

Rising HIV infection rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people is mirrored in other countries across Asia and worldwide. Similarly, lack of political will to address the growing problem also spans across national borders. Regardless of a country's economic status, gay, bisexual men, other MSM and transgender people are persistently denied of proper health, dignity and livelihood.

The main objective of this speech was to inspire action from within the community -- not just in the Philippines but everywhere -- and to seek support from others who believe that everyone has a right to health, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

I am here today to bring greetings from the regional response to HIV. I am the coordinator for ISEAN (the Insular Southeast Asian Network for MSM, TG and HIV).

ISEAN is a regional network of community-based HIV organizations that provide services for men-who-have-sex-with-men (fondly known as MSM by some) and transgender people, covering the archipelago nations in our region.

I come with an update on the regional HIV epidemic and I unfortunately I am not the bearer of good news.

According to UNAIDS -- the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS -- when you look at the Asia Pacific HIV epidemic among the general population the trend is actually leveling off.

But there are variations in every country.

What we're seeing however is that HIV prevalence among MSM and transgender people is on the increase in a majority of Asian countries.

I've been traveling around the region recently, trying to build support for a multi-country initiative for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria to provide capacity-building for community systems. I won't go into that now, but do speak to me later if you'd like to find out about it.

In every capital city I've visited over the last month news has broken that infection rates among MSM have increased exponentially. I believe Manila is heading on the same direction.

So while we must acknowledge that the HIV virus itself does not discriminate and that there are other key affected populations at risk of HIV, the reality is that burden of HIV infection is felt heaviest among gay and bisexual men, other MSM and transgender people.

In 2008, the Commission on Aids in Asia warned that a new wave of infections was imminent, and that by 2020, fifty-percent of new infections will come from MSM and transgender populations.

But despite this grim news, the gay community, region wide, is suffering from what a friend of mine described as a "complicated relationship with omission."

Policy-makers know that HIV infection rates among gay and bisexual men are skyrocketing, and yet, countries in our region are omitting any mention of men-who-have-sex-with-men from their national strategies.

National governments in our region are failing to heed evidence and allocate budget lines for prevention, care, treatment and support services that target men-who-have-sex-with-men in annual spending -- and the Philippines is no exception.

It's as if the regional HIV response has stepped into a scene of Harry Potter movie and our policy makers are going around the halls of the ministry quietly referring to "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."

How can we address the problem if we don't identify it in the first place?

I believe the situation is worse for the transgender community no recognition any in national statistics, let alone specialized services.

And yet, I've been told that HIV infection rates among transgender women are on track to be an explosive, yet hidden, epidemic.

Are we prepared for this?

Do our health systems have the capacity to deal with this situation?

Have we sufficient support structures to help the growing number of gay, bisexual and transgender people living with HIV to lead productive and happy lives?

How are we going to address the challenges faced by young gay and transgender people who face the prospect of living with HIV as they start their adult life?

Now, I have to admit, it's easy for me to stand here and point my finger at the problem.

It's easy for us all to blame the government for our woes.

It's easy for us to condemn society for the social norms that stigmatize and discriminate against people whose sexual orientation and gender identity do not fit the heterosexual status quo.

But in doing so we are absolving ourselves of responsibility. By continually diverting attention to external factors out of our control, we deny ourselves a role in making change happen.

It's time for this style thinking to end. It's obsolete, and it's nothing but a disservice to our region, our country, our communities, families, friends and loved ones.

It's time for us to see ourselves as part of the solution.

It's time for the community to come together, and demand sustainable health, livelihood and acceptance in society

If we don't do this for ourselves -- if we don't take the lead in this fight -- then no one will do it for us.

The policies of our land will not change unless, our community groups and leaders set aside their differences, come together in a unified voice and demand equal rights and protection under the constitution.

The government will not put their money whether their mouth is, unless we the people hold them accountable to delivering their promises with clear, measurable, time-bound, and well-resourced implementation plans.

Law enforcement practices will not change until, we actively seek Police participation at the discussion table when it comes time to talk about HIV prevention strategies.

Our family and friends will not see the light if we continue to hide our true selves from the people we love.

So on an important day of remembrance like today, we must also remember that the HIV epidemic will not shift, while people living with HIV refrain from having the loudest voice in the room, and remind decision makers that effective prevention strategies start with 100% treatment coverage for people living with the virus.

I mentioned earlier that burden of HIV infections is carried by gay, bisexual men and transgender people, and yet there are so few openly gay, bisexual men and transgender people living with HIV who are willing to share their story and dispel the myth that people like me are akin to lepers, and clearly, we are NOT.

Nothing will change unless more people living with HIV, especially gay men living with HIV, are ready to stand beside me and lead by example.

The choice lies with all of us to take this first step towards social change, and I am confident that once we do, many others will follow.

One of my favorite quotes of all time, is one from Gandhi where he challenged us to "BE the change we want to see in the world.

We should be actively making ourselves part of the solution.

We should be harnessing this frustration and anger that we collectively feel, and transform this into action that benefits all our communities.

We should recognize our own ability to change people's hearts and minds and proactively challenge them to think differently.

We should stand up for our brothers, cousins, uncles, friends and co-workers who would otherwise think that their sexual orientation or gender identity is a source of shame.

We should be brave enough to be comfortable in our own skin, no matter what which way you were born, or whatever your HIV status may be.

If we can take this action into our own hands, THEN we may finally be on the right path to fight HIV in our country, and in our region.

Thank you.

Laurindo is the current coordinator for two regional MSM and transgender community networks in Asia, and led the community team behind the successful multi-country MSM and transgender initiative in Round 10. He has had a diverse background in media, public service, private sector and activism and is now in the process of starting up a new regional social enterprise seeking social change through communication and technology. He can be reached at

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


An Invitation for Expressions of Interest as Principal Recipient of a potential HIV grant Under Round 11 of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (TGF) in the Philippines

The Philippine Country Coordinating Mechanism (PCCM) has decided in its meeting of 15 June 2011 to develop a country proposal on HIV to be submitted to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (TGF) Round 11 call for proposals. Round 11 is expected to be launched on 15 August 2011. Based on TGF procedures, the PCCM shall select the Principal Recipient (PR) at the start of the project proposal development process to provide administrative and logistics support to the process. The PR shall put together a technical team that will write the proposal for submission to TGF by 15 December 2011. The PR shall be responsible for managing the grant, should the proposal be approved, which includes sub-granting to other sub-recipients, monitoring grant implementation against approved plans, preparing regular reports, and requesting for additional fund disbursements from TGF, after endorsement by the CCM. For more information on TGF and the PCCM, visit the web-site:

In this regard, the PCCM invites interested private organizations with experience and track record in managing multi-year, multi-million dollar grants to send their expression of interest to act as Principal Recipient (PR) of a potential HIV grant of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (TGF) in the Philippines. All interested parties are requested to submit the following: (i) letter of interest addressed to the “Chair, Philippine Country Coordinating Mechanism”; (ii) organizational profile; (iii) proof of registration; and, (iv) latest audited financial report. All required documentations should be submitted no later than close of business on Friday, 29 July 2011 to:

Philippine Country Coordinating Mechanism Secretariat
c/o Bureau of International Health, Department of Health
San Lazaro Compound, Rizal Avenue, Manila
Fax No.: +63 2 781 8843

Only short-listed organizations will be invited to make a presentation to the PCCM on 11 August 2011, for final selection.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Support the work of UNAIDS

Your donation is important and can help UNAIDS fulfill its mission to lead and inspire the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

We are delighted to announce the launch of the UNAIDS online donations website, which you can visit by clicking on the following link:

Through this important addition to the UNAIDS presence on the internet, anyone can now make a contribution to the organization in two easy steps. The money collected will go towards the UNAIDS core budget.

The establishment of this new facility is a first attempt to respond to the recent PCB (Programme Coordinating Board) decision requesting UNAIDS to explore diversified and additional funding streams.

Far from being a mere platform for collecting donations from private individuals, the online donations website is an extremely effective resource mobilization and communications tool for the organization, one that has the potential to give individuals an active stake in the future of UNAIDS and the numerous activities we undertake. It is therefore the responsibility of all members of the UNAIDS family to ensure that it is used to its full potential.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Commentary: An emerging epidemic

By: Jonas Bagas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Friday, June 10, 2011

Thirty years since the discovery of AIDS, the world appears to be ready to look at the epidemic with a more optimistic lens: the death rate is going down in many parts of the world, thanks to innovation in anti-retroviral treatment, and there’s a global decline in new infections. This week, in a high-level meeting of more than 40 heads of states and ministers, the United Nations will set a new direction in the battle to eliminate HIV and AIDS. There will be the usual political wrangling and hostile debates over the next global political commitment on HIV and AIDS, especially on the issue of funding the global HIV response, but there is no denying that sense of hope prevailing among HIV and AIDS activists.

Unfortunately, that spirit of optimism will not reach Philippine shores. Citing government reports, the United Nations said that the Philippines is one of the only seven countries worldwide that diverged from the global trend: the country is experiencing a sharp rise in HIV infection, from one new infection a day in 2007 to five to six a day in 2011. The Department of Health’s official HIV registry is not showing an unusual rise in HIV deaths, but stories of deaths among young men (who had sex with men) due to AIDS-related complications are circulating within the gay, bisexual and transgendered community. These deaths, mostly a result of late diagnosis of HIV status and failure to access treatment, are increasing but remain undetected because of stigma: families of those who perished refuse to report the real cause of death.

We can only blame complacency and the lack of political leadership for the emerging HIV epidemic in the country. The government has been warned that the Philippines has all the necessary ingredients for a full-blown HIV epidemic, but authorities have taken false comfort from the fact that it has not reached the general population yet. That there is no large-scale HIV epidemic in the country is a product of our moral values, thus proclaimed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a statement that captures the attitude among politicians toward the virus.

But HIV experts have warned that it is just a matter of time for the epidemic to reach the general population. Migrant Filipinos, especially women, are still considered vulnerable, but government data show that the epidemic remains concentrated: 80 percent of new infections have been transmitted through unprotected male-to-male sex among young Filipinos, mostly in urban centers (more than half of new cases are in Metro Manila); injecting drug users are the drivers of HIV infection in Cebu, and in some areas, new HIV cases are being reported among people in prostitution or sex workers. Unofficial projection by epidemiologists indicates that in five years, three out of 10 men who have sex with men and transgenders would be infected by the virus.

Countries that were able to halt their HIV epidemic have shown the importance of reversing and stopping microepidemics. It might be politically convenient to ignore the growing HIV infection among gays, bisexuals, transgenders, sex workers and drug users. The government can always resort to populist moves—conducting raids on gay-sex establishments, pursuing policies that treat condoms as evidence of criminal activities, or rounding up sex workers and drug users. It will get good media mileage, or perhaps some votes, but it won’t stop the virus from spreading.

Doing so, in fact, smacks of idiocy, a willful rejection of the growing evidence of what works and what doesn’t in addressing the HIV epidemic. Thirty years of AIDS have produced a body of lessons that could and should guide the Philippines: the importance of promoting large-scale and evidence-based safer sex interventions, not just abstinence; encouraging voluntary HIV counseling and testing; improving access to treatment; care and support services for Filipinos living with HIV and AIDS; and removing discriminatory barriers to access to HIV services, including those that stigmatize those who are vulnerable to HIV infection.

These are not rocket science, but the application of these standards is already revolutionary because of the big leap in perspective that they require from the political leadership, especially from President Aquino himself. He has no choice but to confront this legacy: ignoring it, the approach adopted by his predecessor, will only add fuel to the fire.

For years, the country’s HIV and AIDS programs have mainly been delivered by civil society groups and by government agencies that heavily rely on foreign donors. The government must step up its response by putting money and action behind its commitments to combat HIV and AIDS. It still can reverse and halt the epidemic, but the first step is to have the political will to do it.

Jonas Bagas is the civil society representative of the official Philippine delegation to the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS, which is taking place in New York from June 8 to 10, 2011. The meeting, which will gather more than 40 heads of state and ministers, marks the 30th anniversary of AIDS. Bagas is the vice chair of TLF Share, an NGO for the health and human rights of Filipino gays, bisexuals and transgenders.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Message from the United Nations Resident Coordinator on the Stigma Fuels HIV Campaign Launch

Please click on the attached video message from the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

The attached video file may be viewed using Windows Media Player.

If this page does not display properly, please follow this link to watch the video:

For more information about this campaign, and HIV and AIDS, please log on to the following websites:

Stigma Fuels HIV Campaign:

UN Cares:

UN Cares Philippines Facebook Page: Philippines/204343392941029

UN Plus:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

UN Philippines observes International AIDS Candlelight Memorial: 25 May 2011, RCBC Plaza Lobby, Makati City

Dear colleagues,

The Annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is observed worldwide every third Sunday in May. The yearly event, coordinated worldwide by the Global Health Council, remembers the lives lost to AIDS, demonstrates support for the People Living with HIV, and mobilizes community-based responses to HIV and AIDS. In the Philippines, the practice has been to hold this event within the month of May.

The United Nations in the Philippines observes this international event on 25 May 2011 (Wednesday); 9:00 am- 6:00 pm at the RCBC Plaza Lobby. In line with the year’s theme of “Touching Lives”, the event will feature two small exhibits: 1) photo and audio exhibit of “Human Soul”; and 2) Project Headshot Clinic.

A number of NGOs active in AIDS response will also be around together with volunteers mobilized by the UNV to explain the exhibit and hand out HIV related information in the Philippines.

In this regard, we would appreciate your support by getting your colleagues and friends to visit the exhibit.

Description of Exhibits:

"HUMAN SOUL": A Multi-media Exhibit on the Fights Against Discrimination
"These are common Filipinos you might have seen on the streets, without giving them a second glance. Whether elegant transsexuals, or discreet gays, as well as courageous HIV-positive individuals, they are daily victims of an invisible and non-punishable crime: discrimination.

When you look at their eyes and listen to their voices, remember that these persons could be you parent, your sibling, your child or your friend. But this person could also be you. Because discrimination doesn't only happen to others."

Project Headshot Clinic (HSC) is a brand new concept that merges profile photos online and advertising as we see campaigns, advertisements, and advocacies may easily be conveyed through our unique digitized headshots, online profile photos can be potential online billboards. Its major components are: registration, mass shooting, and mass uploading on social network web sites (as profile photo), which make HSC an effective and creative marketing tool. HSC creates curiosity and impact to those who are not yet aware or part of it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

US monitoring AIDS’ growth rate in PH, says USAID

By Jerry E. Esplanada Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 01:15:00 04/17/2011

Filed Under: Government, Health, Diseases

MANILA, Philippines—Washington is “watching very closely” the HIV-AIDS problem in the Philippines, one of its closest allies in Asia, according to the country head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Gloria D. Steele, USAID mission director, said “the number of (HIV infections in the Philippines) is still small, but the rate of growth is problematic.”

“We’re watching that very closely and making sure our information campaign—letting people know what the implications are, what could happen, how you can prevent it—is well known,” Steele told the Inquirer.

In an interview, Steele, a Filipino-American, said: “We need to be worried about the spread of the disease. We need to be concerned, and we need to make sure that it does not spread.”

“But unlike in most countries in Africa where it’s really a big problem, it’s not yet a generalized epidemic (in the Philippines). It is limited to intravenous drug users and to men having sex with men. Basically, those two groups,” she said.

Steele said the US government was doing its part in the campaign against HIV-AIDS “in close coordination with the Department of Health (DoH).”

Between 2008 and 2010, USAID allocated $85.8 million (about P3.72 billion) for health-related projects in the Philippines, including the prevention of HIV-AIDS and emerging pandemic diseases, and the promotion of voluntary family planning.

The 6th MDG

In a report, the agency said “communication plays an integral part in an effective response to health challenges.”

USAID “works with health officials and health service providers to inform the public of appropriate health practices, signs and symptoms of common health disorders, availability of health services and national and local health policies,” it said.

With only five years to the deadline to achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the Philippines continues to fall short of its sixth MDG, which is to halt and reverse the spread of the dreaded HIV-AIDS, said Teresita Marie Bagasao, country coordinator of the United Nations Program on HIV-AIDS (UNAIDS).

Citing official reports, including from the DOH, Bagasao said that in the Philippines new infection rates were going up, not down.

In the 2010 Global AIDS report released by UNAIDS in November, the Philippines was one of seven countries that reported a more than 25 percent rise in new HIV infections between 2001 and 2009, while other countries had either stabilized or significantly lowered the rate of new infections.

Among all countries in Asia, only the Philippines and Bangladesh reported increases in HIV cases.


The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, leads to AIDS, short for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, a condition in which the body’s immune system is attacked, weakened and disabled by the virus, ultimately leading to death. In the Philippines, anti-HIV-AIDS programs “remain either unfunded or under-funded and have not been able to keep up with the change and pace in HIV transmission,” observed Bagasao.

She said “more than half of program funding comes from external sources,” like the Global Fund.

The programs “need a clear investment plan to address not only resource gaps but also sustainability of existing efforts,” she stressed.

“Overall, it is largely a health-focused response … other sectors need to step up their responses to the problem,” Bagasao said.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: UN Secretary-General outlines new recommendations to reach 2015 goals for AIDS response

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In lead-up to June High Level Meeting, progress report presents overview of efforts needed to help countries achieve universal access to HIV services and zero new HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths

NAIROBI, 31 March 2011—Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, investments in the AIDS response are yielding results, according to a new report released today by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Titled Uniting for universal access: towards zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths, the report highlights that the global rate of new HIV infections is declining, treatment access is expanding and the world has made significant strides in reducing HIV transmission from mother to child. Between 2001 and 2009, the rate of new HIV infections in 33 countries—including 22 in sub-Saharan Africa—fell by at least 25%. By the end of 2010, more than 6 million people were on antiretroviral treatment in low- and middle-income countries. And for the first time, in 2009, global coverage of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV exceeded 50%. But despite the recent achievements, the report underscores that the gains are fragile. For every person who starts antiretroviral treatment, two people become newly infected with HIV. Every day 7 000 people are newly infected, including 1 000 children. Weak national infrastructures, financing shortfalls and discrimination against vulnerable populations are among the factors that continue to impede access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. The Secretary-General’s report, based on data submitted by 182 countries, provides five key recommendations that will be reviewed by global leaders at a UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS, 8–10 June 2011. “World leaders have a unique opportunity at this critical moment to evaluate achievements and gaps in the global AIDS response,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the press briefing in the Kenyan capital. “We must take bold decisions that will dramatically transform the AIDS response and help us move towards an HIV-free generation.” “Thirty years into the epidemic, it is imperative for us to re-energise the response today for success in the years ahead,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel SidibĂ©, who joined Mr Ban for the launch of the report. “Gains in HIV prevention and antiretroviral treatment are significant, but we need to do more to stop people from becoming infected—an HIV prevention revolution is needed now more than ever.” Rebecca Auma Awiti, a mother living with HIV and field coordinator with the non-governmental organization Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya told her story at the press conference. “Thanks to the universal access movement, my three children were born HIV-free and I am able to see them grow up because of treatment access,” she said. Mobilizing for impact In the report there are five recommendations made by the UN Harness the energy§Secretary-General to strengthen the AIDS response: Revitalize the push§of young people for an HIV prevention revolution; towards achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care Work with countries to make HIV programmes more§and support by 2015; Promote the health, human§cost effective, efficient and sustainable; Ensure mutual§rights and dignity of women and girls; and accountability in the AIDS response to translate commitments into action. The Secretary-General calls upon all stakeholders to support the recommendations in the report and use them to work towards realizing Reduce by 50% the sexual transmission of§six global targets: HIV—including among key populations, such as young people, men who have sex with men, in the context of sex work; and prevent all new HIV Eliminate HIV§infections as a result of injecting drug use; Reduce by 50% tuberculosis deaths§transmission from mother to child; Ensure HIV treatment for 13 million people;§in people living with HIV; Reduce by 50% the number of countries with HIV-related restrictions§ Ensure equal access to education for§on entry, stay and residence; and children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS. As international funding for HIV assistance declined for the first time in 2009, the report encourages countries to prioritize funding for HIV programmes, including low- and middle-income countries that have the ability to cover their own HIV-related costs. It also stresses the importance of shared responsibility and accountability to ensure the AIDS response has sufficient resources for the coming years. The report and more information about the High Level Meeting on AIDS can be found online at: Contacts: UNAIDS Geneva Sophie Barton-Knott +41 22 791 1697 UNAIDS Nairobi Saira Stewart +41 79 467 2013 UNAIDS Nairobi Esther Gathiri-Kimotho +254 20 762 6718 UN Department of Public Information New York Vikram Sura +1 212 963 8274 UN Department of Public Information New York Pragati Pascale +1 212 963 6870

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, coordinated by the Global Network of People living with HIV is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV/AIDS awareness in the world. Started in 1983, the Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries hosting local memorials to honor the lives lost and raise social consciousness about HIV. The Candlelight is also much more than just a memorial. It provides opportunities for leadership development, policy advocacy, partnerships, and improvement of community mobilization skills. With 33 million people living with HIV today, the Candlelight continues to serve as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers, and giving hope to new generations.

Mobilization & Advocacy Campaign

In addition to commemorating the lives of those lost and affected by AIDS, the Candlelight Memorial program serves as a community mobilization campaign beginning in December and ending with the international memorial in May. The campaign begins World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) when the Global Network of People living with HIV unveils the season's official poster and theme. Organizations register online for free on the Candlelight website to become official "coordinating organizations." Once registered, the Global Network of People living with HIV informs and guides coordinating organizations in the planning of their memorial activities. The Global Network of People living with HIV also works with the organizations to advocate for policy change by promoting the Candlelight Advocacy Platform during key global AIDS events throughout the year.

Coordinating Organizations

Coordinating Organizations are the community-based groups and programs organizing the Candlelight Memorial around the world. Coordinating organizations are diverse and include service organizations, academic institutions, health-care facilities, networks of people living with HIV, faith-based groups, businesses, media, and more. The Global Network of People living with HIV provides each organization with an online coordinator package including a manual and specially designed posters, web space to post event details, and membership of the campaign's global coalition. At the end of their memorials in May, coordinating organizations submit a brief final report online detailing what happened at their activities and the impact of the events on their communities.

The Memorials

Memorials range from small community vigils to multi-day national commemorations. In addition to remembrance, many coordinating organizations use the Candlelight Memorial as an opportunity to promote local AIDS services, encourage education and community dialogue, and advocate for the advancement of public policy. Memorials often include lighting of candles, marches, speeches, dramatic performances, spiritual and cultural rituals, and a safe space for interaction and community engagement. To kick-off the worldwide memorial events, the Global Network of People living with HIV will release a press statement to all major media. In 2011 a live Opening Ceremony will not be possible.

Regional & National Leadership

Leadership by people living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the disease is an important part of the Candlelight Memorial program. The Global Network of People Living with HIV works year-round to achieve its mission in close partnership with the International Advisory Board, a board of regional coordinators representing each world region where the program takes place. A set of national coordinators lead the Candlelight in their countries, working with community coordinating organizations to cultivate their community events. Throughout the year, the Global Network of People Living with HIV supports exchange between regional and national coordinators.

Candlelight Calendar

October: Registration Opens
December: Start of mobilization campaign
May (Third Sunday): Worldwide Candlelight Memorial & Opening Ceremony