Philippines must get real on HIV/AIDS issue

News Release
December 2, 2012

Sen.Pia leads forum, exhibit on HIV/AIDS awareness

Over the last decade, the number of Filipinos being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), has risen by more than 25 percent.

With this high infection rate, the Philippines earned the ignoble distinction of being one of nine countries where new HIV/AIDS infections have increased by 25 percent in the last decade, according to the 2012 Global Report of the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The other eight countries, the report noted, are Bangladesh, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Sri Lanka.

The situation in the Philippines defy trends in many low- and middle-income countries, which were reportedly able to reduce the rate of HIV infections by more than 50 percent during the same period, or between the years 2001-2011.

“The Philippines badly needs to get real on the issue of HIV/AIDS,” said Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

“It’s a silent epidemic that threatens our people. We have one of the highest infection rates in the world, and yet, what concrete measures are we implementing to address it?”

To help raise awareness, Cayetano will lead a forum and deliver a privilege speech at the Senate on Monday, December 3. Joining the senator in the forum are Dr. Eric Tayag, head of the National Epidemiological Center of the Department of Health (DOH), who will discuss the HIV/AIDS situation in the Philippines, and Teresita Marie Bagasao, Country Coordinator of UNAIDS who will share highlights from the 2012 World AIDS Day Report.

The forum will be followed by a press conference with members of the Senate media, and the opening of an exhibit on HIV/AIDS entitled, ‘Unite 2012.’ The exhibit will be opened by Cayetano and fellow advocate Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, along with UN resident coordinator Luisa Carvalho, Ugochi Daniels, Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, and celebrity photographer and Headshot Clinic founder Niccolo Cosme.

Conceptualized and assembled by Cosme, ‘Unite 2012’ features headshots of diverse personalities from different sectors, including showbiz celebrities, musicians, bloggers, government leaders and advocates who are one in supporting the UNAIDS vision seeking “zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

The exhibit which will run from December 3-14, is a joint effort of Headshot Clinic in partnership with the Office of Sen. Cayetano, Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development, United Nations Population Fund, and UNAIDS. #

For more information on Project Headshot Clinic and ‘Unite 2012’ visit www.headshotclinic.com. #

Photo of Senator Pia Cayetano courtesy of Niccolo Cosme of Headshot Clinic for ‘Unite 2012.’

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