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


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"GMA News Investigates" looks at rising cases of HIV in PHL on SONA

Kara David reports on the rising cases of HIV in the Philippines for "GMA Channel 7”, a regular special reports segment on State of the Nation with Jessica Soho.

Monday, March 21, 2011

UNAIDS/UNDP/WHO concerned over sustainability and scale up of HIV treatment

Press release

UNAIDS, UNDP and WHO encourage countries to use the flexibilities as set out in the TRIPS agreement to lower costs and improve access to HIV treatment

GENEVA, 15 March 2011—The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are deeply concerned about the long-term sustainability of access to affordable HIV treatment.

In a new policy brief launched today, UNAIDS, UNDP and WHO urge countries, where appropriate, to use the intellectual property and trade flexibilities set out in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS agreement and public health, in order to reduce the price of HIV medicines and expand access to people most in need.

“We are seriously concerned about the future of HIV treatment programmes,” said Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNAIDS. “Only about one third of people in need have access to treatment. In the current economic climate even sustaining that over the long-term will be a challenge. Countries must use all the means at their disposal, including the TRIPS flexibilities, to ensure sustainability and the significant scale up of HIV services to reach people most in need.”

At the end of 2009, nearly 15 million people were estimated to be in need of antiretroviral treatment for HIV and 5.2 million people had access to the life-saving therapy.

Over the last 10 years the annual cost of a first-line antiretroviral regimen for low-income countries decreased by almost 99%––from more than US$ 10 000 per person in 2000 to less than US$ 116 for the least expensive WHO-recommended first-line regimen in 2010. However, prices are still too high for many low- and middle-income countries, especially for second-line regimens.

"Millions of people in developing countries now depend on a steady supply of affordable first-line treatment for HIV. If their treatment is interrupted, which can lead to drug resistance, these patients will have to switch to a second-line regimen. That can be at least six times more expensive than the first-line regimen," said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO's HIV/AIDS Department. "Making full use of trade flexibilities and other cost reduction strategies for quality medicines is now more important than ever."

The challenge is further exacerbated by an uncertain economic climate. In 2009, funding for HIV was lower than in 2008. This is putting current treatment programmes under increased strain because of reduced budgets and competing priorities. In addition, proposed bilateral and regional free trade agreements could limit the ability of developing countries to use the TRIPS flexibilities. Governments in both developed and developing countries should ensure that any free trade agreements comply with the Principles of the Doha Declaration.

Jeffrey O’Malley, Director of UNDP’s HIV Practice said, “Using TRIPS flexibilities will allow countries to issue compulsory licences and to use other mechanisms provided by the TRIPS Agreement and Doha Declaration to obtain access to affordable generic antiretroviral medicines. This means a country could produce generic medicines at a lower cost or, if it does not have manufacturing capacity, import lower-cost, generic medicines from another country.”

Brazil issued a compulsory license for efavirenz through the TRIPS flexibilities which brought the price down by more than two-thirds, from US$ 1.60 per dose to US$ 0.45 for the generic version. Such price differences have enormous implications for the ability of national authorities and other service providers to deliver antiretroviral treatment to people in need.

Despite the opportunities provided by the TRIPS flexibilities, many countries have yet to amend their laws to incorporate them. UNAIDS, UNDP and WHO will continue to support countries, on their request, to increase access to treatment and provide technical assistance to implement the TRIPS flexibilities to scale up access to antiretroviral medicine.

UNAIDS and WHO launched the Treatment 2.0 initiative in 2010 to accelerate access to cheaper, more effective and tolerable drug combinations and diagnostics. Efforts must be maintained to spur much-needed innovation in developing new medicines and to support new intellectual property approaches. Incorporating and using the available TRIPS flexibilities will also be key to expanding access to HIV treatment in the coming years.

Friday, March 18, 2011

UNICEF: Investing in adolescents can break cycles of poverty and inequity and reduce risk of HIV

UNICEF launches 2011 State of the World's Children Report, 'Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity'

Manila, Philippines - Investing in the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents aged 10-19 now can break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequity, and reduce the risk of HIV in the Philippines, said UNICEF, launching its 2011 State of the World’s Children report entitled ‘Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity’.

Strong investments during the last two decades have resulted in enormous gains for young children up to the age of 10. The 33 per cent drop in the global under-five mortality rate (nearly 50% in the Philippines) shows that many more young lives have been saved and millions of children now benefit from improved access to safe water and critical medicines such as routine vaccinations.

On the other hand, there have been fewer gains in areas critically affecting adolescents. More than seventy million adolescents of lower secondary age are currently out of school. In the Philippines, only about 60% of children of secondary school age ever attend. Without education, adolescents cannot develop the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the risks of exploitation, abuse and violence that are at height during the second decade of life.

“Adolescence is a pivot point – an opportunity to consolidate the gains we have made in early childhood or risk seeing those gains wiped out,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. “We need to focus more attention now on reaching adolescents -- especially adolescent girls -- investing in education, health and other measures to engage them in the process of improving their own lives.”

Adolescence is a critically important age. It is during this second decade of life that inequities and poverty manifest starkly. Young people who are poor or marginalized are less likely to make the transition to secondary education during adolescence, and they are more likely to experience exploitation, abuse and violence such as domestic labour and child marriage – especially if they are girls.

The vast majority of today’s adolescents (88 per cent) live in developing countries. In the Philippines, adolescents comprise almost 20 million of the population or roughly 22% (2007 census). This report catalogues, in heart-wrenching detail, the array of dangers adolescents face: early pregnancy and childbirth, a primary cause of death for teenage girls; the pressures that keep 70 million adolescents out of school; exploitation, violent conflict and the worst kind of abuse at the hands of adults.

In the Philippines, about 1.4 million young women and men between 15 and 24 years of age were unemployed accounting for 51 per cent of the total unemployed (2008). An increasingly technological labour market requires skills that many young people do not possess. This not only results in a waste of young people’s talents, but also in a lost opportunity for the communities in which they live. In many countries, large teenage populations are a unique demographic asset that is often overlooked. By investing in adolescent education and training, countries can reap a large and productive workforce, contributing significantly to the growth of national economies.

Adolescents and HIV risk in the Philippines
In the Philippines, one third of new HIV infections are occurring among young people 15-24 years of age increasing 10-fold from 2007 to 2010.

Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF country representative said: “ There is no doubt that HIV + AIDS in the Philippines has an adolescent face. We know from research and findings around the world that youth need sound and accurate information on sexual and reproductive health to protect them from teen pregnancy, early marriage, gender-based violence, risky social and sexual behaviours, and STIs and HIV. We cannot be complacent any longer about the rate of new HIV infections. Infections in the Philippines are increasing at an alarming rate.”

Tobin added: “The Philippines has led the south east Asian region in recognising and promoting adolescent rights and giving young people a voice. It is now important to listen to those voices and respond to adolescents need to receive clear, accurate information on protecting themselves from STIs and HIV. ”

To enable adolescents worldwide to effectively deal with these challenges, targeted investments in the following key areas are necessary:

• Investing in education and training so that adolescents have the means to lift themselves out of poverty and contribute to their national economies;
• Advocating for expanded opportunities for youth to participate and voice their opinion, for example in national youth councils, youth forums, online activism and other avenues which enable adolescents to make their voices heard.
• Promoting laws, policies and programs that protect the rights of both children and adolescents and enable them to overcome barriers to essential services

The report concludes that young people must be given the tools they need to improve their own lives. Only then will we foster a generation of economically independent citizens who are fully engaged in civic life and able to actively contribute to their communities.

“Millions of young people around the world are waiting for a greater action by all of us,” said Lake.

For further information, to arrange an interview or to obtain a copy of the report, please contact:
Angela Travis, UNICEF Philippines
Tel +63 917 8678366,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Youngblood- Positive

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:52:00 03/16/2011

Filed Under: Health, Diseases

I WAS diagnosed as HIV positive a couple of months ago, and my perspective on life changed dramatically. Truly, we cannot be in complete control of everything. Getting such a diagnosis really changes you. In one instant, your life and the lives of those around you turn 180 degrees.

You can respond in two different ways: One is negatively, by either being in denial, or feeling very bad and blaming God, forever ranting, and eventually ending up very depressed. People who react this way think that their life is over, and there’s no future to look forward to anymore, and some end up committing suicide. Or you can respond positively and in a pro-active way. You consult the doctors, take your medicines, and live a relatively long and fulfilling life.

When I was told I was HIV positive, my whole view of the world and of my experiences changed. I don’t want to waste my life anymore. I seize every opportunity to be happy. I want to live a meaningful life—a relatively shorter life, yes, but a more meaningful one.

It is a blessing in disguise. I just need to reprogram my thinking, to learn how to look at things differently. I have never been happier. Knowing that your days are numbered (somewhat) makes a whole lot of difference.

I have a strong support system in my family and closest friends. To them, I am very thankful, and of course, to God, and the universe, for eventually, slowly, making everything fall into place. Now, I can say that I know what my life’s meaning is, and the reason I am here. I know whom and what I am living for.

I am very healthy now, thanks to God, the doctors, the medicines, and those who know my condition.

Many recent scientific studies say that if you start treatment at around 20 years old and it works, and you are still in the latent stage, and you live a relatively healthy and stress-free life, HIV will cut your life span by just about 10 years. So having HIV is not much of a death sentence after all.

Those who are scared to have themselves tested, shouldn’t feel that way. It is not the end of the world, as many would think. You can choose to face the reality now, or just die without even giving a fight. You can either be in denial forever, or you can face it and have it treated. You can postpone and postpone having yourself tested, or you can do it now. But there’s no other day but today to do it.

Another advantage of having yourself tested is that if you are indeed positive, you start treatment early. If you tested early, the prognosis (disease progression or outcome) is really good. But if you are diagnosed, say, 8 or 10 years after the virus entered your system, then you are likely to get a real death sentence, with all sorts of opportunistic infections manifesting themselves.

It’s time to turn our lives around, guys. Be brave. Get on your feet and have the courage to have yourself tested, and show that you love yourself indeed, and that you are socially responsible. You don’t want to be sleeping around, just passing the virus on to everyone you have sex with.

If you have yourselves tested and you turn out to be negative, you get rid of perpetual paranoia and you are given another chance to be more cautious.

And if you are positive, well, live life. You are not alone. I am okay. I have never felt better in my life.

And the medicines are free, yes, free. There are funds from the government and from the rest of the world. The expenses for treatment are therefore minimal.

An HIV test only costs P200 to P300 in government hospitals. Check out the San Lazaro Hospital, the Philippine General Hospital, or the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. Please, let us all be responsible.

If you are positive, it is not the end of the world. It may actually be the beginning of a better, more fulfilling life for you.

What are the symptoms? Well, you really wouldn’t have symptoms. Once the virus enters your body, you will feel a bit feverish and be a little weak. It’s just like you have a common flu. Then after a few days, these flu-like symptoms will disappear. You will then be asymptomatic (without any symptoms) for approximately 8 to 10 years. This means that you will not feel anything wrong with you. You will seem very healthy, to yourself and to those around you. Therefore, you wouldn’t know you have it, until after the 8-10 year period, and then your immune system is already compromised, unable to protect you against all sorts of infections.

The important lesson here is that you really wouldn’t know merely by looking and asking whether a person is HIV positive or not. The most alarming thing is that many people are infected with the virus but they do not know it precisely because there are no symptoms. This, coupled with the fact that they are hesitant to have themselves tested, means they will continue to spread the virus. And it become a vicious cycle.

It is best to have yourself tested so you know the real score.

If you have questions, or you want to learn some more about my experience, reach me through: This is also my YM! account. And here is my cell-phone number: 09279268855.

Ian, 23, is a graduate of the University of the Philippines. He wrote this piece to promote greater awareness of HIV/AIDS and encourage early testing.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Job Opening: Technical Coordinator

“Hiring of a Technical Coordinator to Support the Conduct of Operations Research in Integrating Male Sexual Health Services in the Local Health Systems”

The complexity of sexual behaviors of Filipino men continue to impact to national HIV situation. While past achievements of prevention programmes demonstrated effectiveness, a sustained model of provision of spectrum of services from prevention, case detection and treatment and care that is effective, delivered in a non-stigmatised environment is wanted.

To contribute to the reduction of HIV risk taking behavior among MSM by mainstreaming or linking male sexual health services to health services of Manila City and Quezon City Philippines

Specific Objectives of this TOR
1) To support the actual conduct of the Operations Research on Integrating Sexual Health into Local Health Systems
2) Develop/draft the operational guideline and capacity-building plan for health service providers, including community-based organizations for planned scale-up

Please forward your concept notes with budget and time line to AIDS Society of the Philippines, 2/F OTM Building #71 Sct Tuazon st. South Triangle Quezon City 1103 or Deadline of submission is March 18, 2011.