WHO, DOH & LoveYourself introduce PrEP in the Philippines
WHO’s on PrEP: World Health Organization’s (WHO) Country Representative Dr. Gundo Weiler talks about the current global scenario on HIV and the usage of medical advancements in fighting off the spread of HIV during LoveYourself’s #HackingHIV for the introduction Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in the Philippines on 29 November 2016 at Greenbelt 3 in Makati City.
As LoveYourself and its partners introduce PrEP in the country, Dr. Gundo emphasized that “Key populations [MSMs & the Youth] need to stand up and mobilize for their right to take control of their own health and of their own lives to prevent HIV transmission.”
Moreover, Dr. Gundo said that the key populations who are affected by the epidemic are also the populations that holds the key in turning around the epidemic.
(Makati City). Contributing to the World AIDS Day celebration on 1 December, HIV prevention advocacy group LoveYourself, Inc. introduces the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV in the Philippines during the #HackingHIV event on Tuesday night (29 November) at MyCinema Greenbelt 3 in this city.
PrEP is an HIV medicine from the combination of “tenofovir and emtricitabine” which is taken daily to lower the chances of contracting the virus.
Supported by Philippine Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM), American Foundation for AIDS Research and the World Health Organization (WHO), LoveYourself was the chosen organization to pioneer the launching of PrEP in the Philippines under the banner program #PrEPPilipinas in which initial demonstration is envisioned to be executed within the first quarter of 2017.
Following the stagnating number of HIV cases around the globe, WHO Country Representative Dr. Gundo Weiler observed that “The situation in the Philippines is much more dramatic, because the number never went down. It’s only going up and it’s right to say so even in an exponential manner.”
By bringing PrEP to the Philippines, Dr. Weiler said “People are very much capable to take care of their own health if we give people the means to do so… PrEP is one additional important choice [for HIV prevention] that will empower people [the Filipinos].”
According to Dr. Rosanna A. Ditangco, Head of AIDS Research Group of DOH-RITM & Primary Investigator of PrEPPilipinas, “The program is basically a demonstration project on a community-led HIV prevention strategy for MSMs [males-having-sex-with-males],” which will be spearheaded by LoveYourself, and will have a pilot implementation in Manila and a plan to roll out to the rest of the country.
Dr. Ditangco explained that “PrEP is effective and it is safe,” but highlighted the importance of community acceptability.
“We are embarking on a demonstration project that would precisely document the effectiveness of PrEP –the acceptability and feasibility in the real world environment,” said Dr. Ditangco.
Co-primary investigator of the PrEP Pilipinas project and LoveYourself Senior Director Christopher M. Lagman emphasized that “PrEP shouldn’t be taken as a replacement to current prevention measures, but an option and another level of protection to avoid getting HIV.”
Targeting the most-vulnerable populations for this new HIV prevention measure, Lagman relayed that LoveYourself will not just distribute PrEP to people, but will ensure a holistic service approach by providing check-ups and counseling, among others.
Also considering the varied lifestyle of people, Lagman said “We need to have more HIV prevention interventions, since more than 50% of MSMs are not using condoms.”
For the preliminary phase of the program, “We have identified two hundred participants initially and funded the program for them,” explained Lagman.
LoveYourself is a local non-government organization providing free and confidential HIV testing, counseling, education, and recently treatment. It has currently two clinics: LoveYourself Anglo in Shaw near Starmall and LoveYourself Uni in Taft-Gil Puyat near the LRT station. These clinics are open on Wednesdays-Saturdays (12:00nn-7:00p.m.) and Sundays (9:00a.m.-2:00p.m.).
For more details on LoveYourself’s services, individuals may visit the group’s official website at www.loveyourself.ph or follow and like its social media channels: Facebook- @loveyourself.ph, Twitter- @loveyourselfph, and Instagram- @loveyourself.ph.