By Chito Chavez
The Quezon City government said Tuesday it has taken drastic measures with the target of attaining zero HIV cases in the locality by 2030.
Mayor Joy Belmonte found this necessary as she expressed great alarm over the ever-increasing number of HIV incidents in the city.
Taking her drive to the hilt, Belmonte on Monday spearheaded the launching of Zero At 2030 at Seda Hotel where she was joined by Vice Mayor Gian Sotto and City Councilors Nicole Crisologo, Diorella Sotto-Antonio, Peachy de Leon, Marivic Co-Pilar, Dorothy Delarmente, Bernard Herrera and Barangay and Community Relations Department Head, Ricky Corpuz.
In a historic first in Philippine politics, Belmonte, Sotto and the city councilors underwent public HIV testing to encourage the public to also have themselves checked and be aware of their health status.
Under the program, Belmonte said the target is to have 90 percent of local residents with HIV to know their status, 90 percent who are positive to get treatment and 90 percent on treatment should stay treated.
By 2030, Belmonte said there should be zero new HIV cases, zero HIV-related deaths and zero discrimination.
To accomplish these goals, Belmonte said the city government has increased its 2020 budget allocation for its HIV program to P12 million that will be utilized for treatment and virus containment.
First, Belmonte has committed to have HIV testing available in all local health centers and hospitals in QC.
“We will make sure all our local health centers will be equipped with manpower and resources to make HIV testing available anywhere in our city,” said Belmonte.
Likewise, Belmonte said the city government will ramp up efforts behind its safe sex campaign, particularly in the distribution of condoms.
In addition, Belmonte plans to establish more One-Stop Shops in District 3 and District 6 where local residents can undergo testing and get needed medicines.
She plans to add more health workers, Peer Outreach Workers and client-centered managers to better serve local residents and People Living with HIV (PLHIV).
Belmonte also seeks to strengthen the partnership with the private sector, malls and workplaces to extend wellness services to many local residents.
Further, she plans to tap academic institutions to beef up the city government’s sexuality education program, which includes education on HIV in the secondary to tertiary level.
“We will not just sit and accept that our people are suffering and dying a senseless death when there are lots of things that we can do,” Belmonte stressed.
Earlier, the Quezon City Health Department reported that 505 new HIV cases have been recorded from January to July this year, 486 of which were males and 19 females.
Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and STI/HIV Program Manager, said that 77 new HIV cases were tallied in July alone.