UN helping PH in fight against AIDS

Published by rudy Date posted on May 27, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is developing a “comprehensive HIV prevention program” for overseas Filipino workers and other most-at-risk population sectors in the Philippines.

“This is a major contribution of the UN in the fight against AIDS,” said Jacqueline Badcock, UN resident coordinator, during yesterday’s 28th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City.

The annual event recalls the millions worldwide who have died due to AIDS-related complications as well as aims to raise social awareness to the plight of those who are living with HIV.

HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, can turn into full-blown AIDS, or the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and lead to certain death when the body’s immune system completely shuts down.

“Touching Lives,” the theme of this year’s memorial, “highlights how HIV has touched the lives of many people and how an improved response with more access to treatment, better prevention programs, and respect for human rights and dignity touches the lives of people living with HIV,” said Badcock.

Rommel Legwes and “Imelda,” two former OFWs who are living with HIV, joined the UNDP and the nongovernment organization, Action for Health Initiatives, in urging the Philippine government to “focus on the plight of migrant workers afflicted with HIV.”

Citing the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry, Badcock said that between 1984 and 2011, there had been 6,669 HIV cases reported in the country.

“Of these, 1,596 were OFWs, comprising 24 percent of all reported cases,” she said.

In her remarks, Badcock noted that “the continuing increase in the number of migrant workers diagnosed with HIV while working abroad is a persistent concern in Asia, particularly in the Philippines.”

“Deportations due to HIV status result in severe economic loss for migrant workers, their families and the economies to which they contribute,” she said.

According to Badcock, “this is a reflection of the inadequacy of programs and services for HIV in all phases of the migration cycle, coupled with the limited capacities of institutions working on HIV and migration issues.”

The UNDP “supports national efforts to address the HIV-AIDS-related challenges faced by OFWs,” she said.

The agency’s program is “anchored on the goals of the Philippine national AIDS response as articulated in the 5th AIDS Medium-Term Plan and our thrust to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the sixth MDG which aims to halt and reverse the spread of HIV-AIDS,” Badcock said. –Jerry E. Esplanada, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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