The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Friday they have agreed with other government organizations such as the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) to have an integrated effort to combat HIV/AIDS spread and to include in their respective plans and activities such effort.
The DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and DILG have also entered into a joint memorandum circular to organize the regional AIDS assistance teams that will provide technical assistance to HIV prevention and control activities of LGUs.
Among the organizations leading this effort are Positive Action Foundation Philippines Inc., PinoyPlus Association and BabaePlus Association.
Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral is encouraging other learning institutions to integrate the information about this virus in their curricula. “The country’s HIV and AIDS situation has reached alarming proportions as it is now described as expanding and growing, from the previous low and slow and hidden and growing phases.”
According to the 2009 Integrated HIV Behavioral Serologic Surveillance results, the risky behavior is high among males who have sex with males, people in prostitution, and people who inject drugs.
These groups are considered the most-at-risk populations while young adults, overseas Filipino workers, persons with multiple sex partners, and partners of those most at risk are considered very vulnerable.
“Education is a potent weapon in combating this disease, hence the integration in school curricula is vital,” said Cabral, which she pointed out is recognized in Republic Act 8504 or the National AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, which called for HIV-related education and information campaigns.
However, Cabral said there are some challenges, such as the implementing institutions of learning having weak institutional capacity to integrate HIV/AIDS in the curricula of various grade levels, protests from opposing sectors of society, the uncertain receptivity of Filipino culture in discussing issues about sexuality in the context of formal learning environments, and uncertain support from the national and local leaders.
“HIV/AIDS as a major public health threat knows no territorial, social, political or economic boundaries. The time to act against this scourge is now,” said Cabral.