The Department of Health along with Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc (PSFI) supports the mandate of World AIDS Day to commemorate the challenges and triumphs in the  global fight against HIV and AIDS. Let’s #AwraSafely for a Healthy Pilipinas aims to bolster the promotion of HIV-related  services  in the country in the time of pandemic through the observance of World AIDS Day this December 2021 with the global theme “End inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.”

Adapting an auxiliary theme “Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice,” three sub-themes were created to encompass the national HIV response— focusing on human rights, inclusivity, and equality. From these broader concepts, the following categories were created to inform the framework of these events:
—“Sa #HIVFreePinas, Universal Health Care is a must!”
—“Sa #HIVFreePinas, Human Rights for all of Us!”
—“Sa #HIVFreePinas, RA 11166 ang batas!”

The observance highlights the policies, services, and multi-sectoral partnerships that make equitable access, rights-based, and non-stigmatizing health care certain for key affected populations and vulnerable groups such as  TGW (Transgender Women), MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) , YKP (Young Key Populations) , PWUD/PWID (Persons who Use/Inject Drugs) , and PLHIV (People Living with HIV).

Furthermore, the“12 Days of HIV Awareness” will feature three virtual health events starting with the pre-event grand launch of Healthy Pilipinas and #AwraSafely partnership titled  “One Message, One Purpose, One Vision: Let’s #AwraSafely for a Healthy Pilipinas!” on November 29, 2021.

“Todo PiTalks for WAD 2021” opened the 12-day campaign on December 1 and will end on December 12 through the culmination event, “Let’s #AwraSafely for #HIVFreePinas!” Regional offices of the DOH and partners of PSFI will facilitate the widespread promotion of this social media campaign to generate national attention on the HIV epidemic and the crucial of human rights to healthcare access.

Secretary Francisco Duque III mentioned that “Despite the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic,   we should all remain focused and resolute in our mandate of preventing and reducing HIV transmission. The government shall continue to provide readily-available HIV and AIDS-related services, including addressing conditions that aggravate the spread of infection.”

Additionally, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire emphasized that “Unrelenting commitment and investments are crucial because how you respond matters.”

Together, the country manifests the possibility of putting an end to the HIV epidemic. As stated by PSFI executive director Sebastian C. Quiñones, Jr., “Although we currently face many challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still looking at a better tomorrow, such as the vaccines and medicines coming into the market. We have proven that despite uncertainties, like this pandemic, Filipinos will continue to strive and move forward. I can see that we are all ready to take on these headstrong. May we all maintain our dedication to this cause and keep our goals in heart and mind.”

Indeed, in the time of COVID-19 pandemic, the DOH and  PSFI will further strengthen their partnerships with stakeholders, key affected populations, and vulnerable groups in order to provide innovative solutions and achieve #HIVFreePinas.