Press Release
December 3, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara reiterated the importance of increasing awareness about HIV to help stop the global AIDS epidemic which to date has claimed the lives of approximately 30 million people.

Angara, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, noted that 295 new cases of HIV infection were reported in October 2012 by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) of the Department of Health (DOH), pointing to a 48 percent increase compared to the same period the year before. For January to October 2012, some 2,761 new cases of HIV infections have been reported in the country thus far.

"These figures represent what has been officially reported to our health agencies," said Angara. "But there are probably more cases out there that go undetected, and therefore untreated."

He noted that reportage on the virus and the related Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has significantly risen in the last few years, compared to the almost non-existent numbers throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s.

"The disparity in numbers can be attributed to HIV and AIDS starting off as taboo subjects," explained the veteran lawmaker, who authored such health-related bills as the Philhealth Act and the Senior Citizens Act. "But through substantive information and awareness drives, these issues become more mainstream and therefore more easily monitored and treated."

In conjunction with World AIDS Day on December 1, UNAIDS recently called on local health authorities to ramp up its efforts in combating HIV and AIDS, pointing out that the Philippines is one of nine countries where reported HIV infections are increasing by more than 25 percent.

According to Dr. Shin Young-soo, World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific, governments in the region, including the Philippines, need to scale up and improve sustained, comprehensive, effective and stigma-free HIV prevention efforts.

Angara noted that around P120 million of the national budget stands for HIV response, with UNAIDS seeing a funding gap of P200 to P300 million for such efforts in the Philippines.

Angara concluded, "We definitely need to funnel in more resources to combat this global epidemic so that the world's top treatments can be brought into the country. But the best thing that we can do to prevent a further rise in HIV infections is through massive information campaigns. The more we lessen the stigma, the better our chances become for actually preventing the disease from spreading."

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