The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), today spearheads the observance of World AIDS Day with the theme, “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics”, highlighting the important role of every Filipino in HIV prevention, support for People Living with HIV (PLHIV), and ending AIDS and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.

“We call on everyone to contribute towards eliminating not just the disease but also stigma and discrimination among PLHIV”, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said. He also recognizes the efforts of everyone involved in the national and local response including the PLHIV community, members of the key population, and the private sector.

During the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS Plenary Session last June, Health Secretary and PNAC Chair Francisco T. Duque III renewed the country’s commitment to the 2021 Political Declaration and the Global AIDS Strategy. He highlighted two laws that created an impact in the campaign on HIV response namely: The Universal Health Care Act and the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act. The Philippines, through the PNAC, further catalyzes its commitment to ending AIDS by joining the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate all Forms of Stigma and Discrimination.

To specifically address stigma and discrimination among PLHIV, the PNAC developed the “Roadmap to Address Rights-Based Barriers To Accessing HIV and AIDS Services” which seeks to empower rights-holders to know and claim their rights and increase the ability and accountability of duty-bearers who are responsible for respecting, protecting, and fulfilling these rights.

Secretary Duque stressed that the country’s efforts in the fight against HIV and AIDS are not only focused on health but also on improving the well-being of PLHIV. The PLHIV has long suffered denied employment, livelihood and education, and illegal dismissal due to their HIV status. “Everyone’s involvement is key to the country’s HIV response”. Duque reiterated.

Meanwhile, from January 1984 to September 2021, there were a total of 90,960 HIV cases reported by the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP). In September 2021 alone, there were 981 new confirmed HIV-positive individuals.

The Philippines experienced a significant rise in its daily new HIV cases from 22 in 2020 to 33 in 2021. As of September 2021, there were 54,022 PLHIV enrolled in the government’s free antiretroviral therapy (ART). Of these, 3,076 PLHIV reported having received only one (1) dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 9,244 were reported to have completed their dose.

Sec. Duque encouraged PLHIV to receive their COVID-19 vaccine doses upon seeking medical clearance to increase their protection against severe COVID-19. He also enjoined everyone to support the World AIDS Day and help raise awareness on HIV and AIDS by sharing their agency’s HIV and AIDS-related materials and policies, as well as best practices, and using hashtags #WADph2021, #HIVFREEPINAS, and #HIVandHR2021. They may also like and follow the PNAC Facebook page (@pnacph) for more information.