By Betheena Kae Unite
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) should be openly discussed in the Philippines to slow down its transmission rate, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday.
Prevention of HIV transmission remains a problem, according to WHO’s Dr. Gundo Aurel Weiler, because of lack of awareness and attention to the situation.
“I think it is important that we openly discuss the issues in all communities, and also in all religious communities,” Weiler said on the sidelines of the 69th session of the regional committee for the WHO Western Pacific.
“In the end, it is really about protecting families, friends, and young people and I think the best way to go about is to have an open discussion about the different ways that would help to protect themselves,” he added.
“Treatment is becoming available and we have an increasing number of clinics that provide treatment for HIV, and have people who come forward to seek treatment,” Weiler said.
Of the estimated 80, 000 people who live with the virus, about half are aware of their condition.
“So there are many people who live with the virus but have yet to be tested and who are unaware and that is a real problem because when people are unaware of their infection, they put their health in danger,” Weiler added.
Stigma and discrimination, he noted, remain the biggest obstacles to HIV testing.