By Paulo Loreto Lim
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), alongside two Australian non-profit organizations, selected Iloilo City as one of two locations in the Philippines to run a pilot program focused on adolescents and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The other location is Zamboanga City.
According to Iloilo City Health Officer, Dr. Bernardo Caspe, who recently attended the seminar called “Innovative approaches and technologies to reduce adolescent HIV in China, Indonesia, and Philippines” in Melbourne, Australia, the program will allow the city to “implement the things we learned.”
Among the information gained from the seminar, he noted the “three best practices” in terms of preventing a surge in HIV cases as establishing a community rapid testing center; access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or treatment administered in order to stop the spread of disease; and self-testing.
Caspe noted, a community rapid testing center is already in existence in Iloilo City, through the social hygiene clinic in Barangay Tanza.
In terms of prophylaxis, he said Congress has to act if funding will be provided for medicine to stop the spread of HIV.
“The concern when taking pre-exposure prophylaxis is that they still have to use a condom,” he added. “Especially men who are having sex with other men; they can avoid HIV by taking pre-exposure prophylaxis, but not gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis if they don’t wear condom.”
The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) and the Burnet Institute will both be contributing to the program.
ASHM is an organization of health professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and supports the health workforce. The Burnet Institute, meanwhile, takes medical research and uses the data to conduct projects to address global health issues./WDJ