By Ben Rosario
Concern over the spread of HIV-AIDS was raised by lawmakers during the budget deliberations in the House of Representatives as reports have indicated that a female senior citizen was among the 166 HIV-AIDS afflicted Filipinos who are above 50 years old.
During the plenary deliberations for the proposed Department of Health budget for 2019, Butil Party-list Rep. Cecilia Leonila Chavez chided public health authorities for lackluster performance in arresting the HIV-AIDS problem in the country.
Chavez, a doctor, questioned the DOH’s public health promotions campaign that will supposedly address concerns about the dreaded disease that has affected young Filipinos.
But HIV-AIDS has spread to 50-and-above age bracket with 166 out of 6,532 have been found to be Filipinos from this age group.
Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo disclosed that from January 2013 to July 2018, at least 1,047 Filipinos aged 50 and above have been afflicted by the disease.
Oldest among HIV-AIDS positive locals was a female overseas Filipino worker who apparently contracted the virus while working abroad.
Rep. Jose Antonio Sy Alvarado (NP,Bulacan), who sponsored the DOH budget, said the agency has been closely monitoring program implementation.
“The forecast in qualification was conducted in May 2018. This coming September, once data is available, an official communication will be sent to the epidemiology center,” he said.
Sy-Alvarado enumerated a number of HIV programs of the DOH.
“The HIV program activities that the DOH has is the availability of free voluntary HIV counseling and testing services, and provision of free anti-retroviral drugs to PLHIV (People Living with HIV),” he said.
Another is the execution of HIV communication plan for males having sex with male.
Sy-Alvardo said likewise the DOH has another activity which is the demonstration project on chronic Hepatitis B in DOH National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Luzon.
“There is also the conduct of the national advocacy events, AIDS [Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome] candlelight memorial, World AIDS Day, including community assemblies and forums to reduce the stigma,” Sy-Alvarado said.
He added that the DOH has augmentation of commodities and resources to local government units. Furthermore the Health agency procured and distributed male condoms and lubricants as prevention commodities during outreach programs.
Chavez insisted that the HIV-AIDS problem in the country has reached epidemic proportions.
She warned that unless the DOH takes immediate steps to warn the youth about the deadly disease, the problem will continue to hound the country.