United States (US) Ambassador MaryKay Carlson handed over 86,000 HIV viral load cartridges to the Philippines today, December 1, 2022, at Barangay 435 Gymnasium in Sampaloc, Manila.
Beneficiaries include the Department of Health (DOH), local government units and development partners of Project EpiC Philippines (Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control). EpiC is supported by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“These test kits are vital to helping the Philippines move closer to achieving its goal of controlling one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics in the world today,” said Carlson.
World AIDS Day 2022’s theme is “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV.”
With the cartridges, DOH Undersecretary Carolina Vidal-Taiño said people with HIV can live productive healthy lives and combat the stigma of their condition.
The donation, which coincides with World AIDS day, will allow the Philippines to help the Joint United Nations Programme meet its 95-95-95 goal (95% HIV testing, treatment, and viral suppression).
“I wish I could say that we’re on track with our commitment to achieve our goals of 95-95-95 by 2025 and to end AIDS by 2030. However, the painful reality is that we are not on track to achieve our targets for many reasons,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros in her message.
Low levels of awareness, insufficient knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19 have hindered the Philippines from being HIV/AIDS-free, added Hontiveros, author of Republic Act 11166 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act.
Fortunately, the viral load cartridges will help many Filipinos achieve U = U (Untraceable = Untransmittable), lessening the spread of the virus.
Good for one year, the cartridges can end help AIDS in the foreseeable future because these help persons with HIV manage their viral load. Through antiretroviral therapy (ART), they cannot transmit HIV to their partner, lessening the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS.