The Quezon City Council today approved the proposed ordinance seeking to boost the local efforts which will prevent and control the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the city.
The measure adopts and localizes the existing Republic Act No. 11166 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act. It will also seek to strengthen the city’s mechanisms in the delivery of treatment and care services to People Living with HIV (PLHIV), and reinforce cooperation among stakeholders to eradicate stigma and discrimination surrounding the epidemic.
In a bid to bolster multi-sectoral partnerships, the Quezon City local government also held a Commitment Ceremony attended by various organizations, public health professionals, and other relevant partners.
New partners and city government departments signed the pledge of commitment to ensure equitable access to quality, comprehensive, and client-centered services by actively participating in the Service Delivery Network for PLHIV.
Data from the QC Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (QCESU) showed that as of September, 7,173 residents have been diagnosed positive for HIV. Of which, 4,433 individuals or 62 percent are on treatment.
“Our treatment coverage is aligned with the national average, but it falls 33 percent short of the UNAIDS’ interim target of 95%. Meanwhile, our viral load testing coverage is only at 29 percent which again is below the 95% target. We propose to address these by coming up with a comprehensive Service Delivery Network (SDN),” said Mayor Joy Belmonte.
Belmonte said the comprehensive SDN will aid the city in delivering effective, needs-based, and targeted HIV programs which will fill the remaining gaps in the city’s HIV continuum of care. She also enumerated the city’s programs that are in the pipeline.
Some of the programs include making HIV testing available in all 69 health centers in the city; peer counseling and access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) through Sundown Clinics; and the establishment of Klinika Bernardo, a sundown clinic that caters to men who have sex with men and transgender people, in Libis in District 3 and Tandang Sora in District 6.
On November 12, the QC government also expressed its commitment to the U Matter Advocacy Campaign that supports the Philippine commitment to the United Nations General Assembly Political Declaration on Ending AIDS by 2030.
U Matter solidifies the support from national and local governments by raising awareness among elected officials and the general public about the Philippines’ HIV interventions, remaining gaps, and challenges, as well as collaborations between and among national and local government units, the private sector, civil society, and development agencies such as The Global Fund and the Australian Government.
The Philippines, thru Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc (PSFI) also received HIV Prevention commodities worth US$ 2.56M from the Global Fund grant of US$22.3M for HIV for 2021 to 2023.
“You matter because putting a stop to HIV and AIDS requires an all-out collective effort. We need all sectors of society to work together to ensure that services are available and accessible without discrimination to all the people who need them,” Mayor Belmonte explained.
The said initiatives are part of the city’s #ZeroAt2030 campaign to reach the goal of zero new cases, zero HIV-related deaths, and zero discrimination for people living with HIV (PLHIV) by 2030.