The United States government, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Friday launched the P500 million ($10.3 million) President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in the Philippines and turned over 20,000 bottles of HIV prevention drugs or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to the Department of Health.
In his remarks, US Embassy Charge d’Affaires John Law reiterated the US government’s commitment to supporting the country in its goal to ending AIDS by 2030 through evidence-based strategies like the DOH’s PrEP program.
“We have a long road ahead of us, and the journey will not be easy, but the US government shares your vision and is committed to standing by your side as a partner in realizing an AIDS-free Philippines,” Law said.
He added that PrEP is a much-needed addition to the HIV prevention arsenal of the Philippines given the anticipated rise in HIV infections as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced access to and uptake of HIV testing and treatment services.
Under the PEPFAR program, USAID will complement the DOH’s work in HIV toward sustainable financing, efficient procurement and supply chain management, and evidence-based, client-centered care. The agency will also work with the Philippine health department on building systems to ensure the steady supply of drugs and commodities.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who received the HIV prevention drugs thanked the US government for its support. “We know that the use of PrEP works effectively to prevent HIV transmission and including this in our coordinated HIV response will spell the difference in our fight against HIV,” said Duque.
With almost 50 facilities located in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), the USAID-PEPFAR is ready to provide free PrEP with a target to reach over 3,500 clients from key populations with HIV prevention drugs over two years.
This PEPFAR support for HIV prevention drugs is part of the U.S. government commitment of more than Php875 million ($18.2 million) over two years for U.S.-Philippines bilateral HIV prevention and control efforts, with implementation by USAID, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Defense.