Joint Symposium: Are we there yet? Reaching global goals for HIV in Asia and Pacific Regions
Health vulnerabilities, human rights and the war on drugs in the Philippines.
Jonas Bagas, Programme Officer, Asia Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organisations, Bangkok, Thailand
The focus of this session was to discuss how our neighbours are meeting global goals for HIV, in terms of leaving no one behind in the aids epidemic.
The ongoing fight to end the public health threat of AIDS concerns all of us. The epidemic does not respect borders, whether it be new migrants that have acquired AIDS overseas and settle in Australia or tourists visiting overseas and returning with an acquired infection.
The Philippines in particular has one of the most explosive HIV epidemics in the Asia and Pacific Region. High levels of discrimination and stigma towards key populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to exist.
Are the Philippines there yet, will they meet the Fast-track target of 90-90-90 by 2020? No, Jonas informs. In fact, targets are way off with 260 000 new HIV infections in 2016 alone.
141% increase in HIV infections was reported since 2010, particularly among key populations and young MSM. Gay men are suffering and dying in silence, fearful of accessing healthcare.
Barriers hindering progression towards targets include; poor knowledge, increase prevalence of STIs, chem sex and low-level condom use.
Prevention targets are also not being met. ½ of MSM, people who inject drugs and sex workers are not even aware of their HIV status. Treatment targets are also off track.
The Philippines are not there yet, Jonas states they will not get there by 2020 or by 2030.
Why? Political struggles, human rights violations and the war on drugs are all key contributors that need urgent attention. Politics are core of the response.
Take home message was we need to work towards zero discrimination, uphold human rights and continue the fight to ends aids for all.