It’s 33 days before World AIDS Day 2009.
Did you know that…
The first ever MSM/TG (Men Who Have Sex with Men/Transgender) National Conference in Manila was held last July 2009?
Groups from the Department of Health, the non-government sector and the international community working on HIV prevention came together for the 1st National Conference on MSM/TG and HIV in Manila in response to the unprecedented rise in HIV cases in the country.
According to the Department of Health National Epidemiology Center, in May 2009 alone, there were 85 new HIV infections confirmed by the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry. This is a 143% increase compared to the same period last year (an average of 35 cases per month) and the highest ever reported number in a single month.
This brings the total number of cases for 2009 (from January to May), to 322. Most of these cases (88%) were males, with the 20-24 year age group with the most number of cases. All cases reported sexual contact as mode of transmission, with homosexual contact or 36% as predominant.
Since the first reported case of HIV in 1984, there have been a total of 3,911 HIV cases registered in the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry.
“The main ingredients for an epidemic are present in the country. First, HIV transmission through unprotected sex accounts for 89% of reported cases. Second, condom use among the most-at-risk group populations remains below the universal access target of 90%.”, says Renaud Meyer, country director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
By defining the profile of MSM and transgender Filipinos, learning from their experiences, and their changing behaviors, “we will be able to address emerging issues facing MSM and TG in the country and contribute to the global halt and reversal of the spread of HIV and other diseases as embodied in Goal 6 of the Millennium Development Goals.”, says Meyer.
One of the goals of the conference was to initiate the recently-approved UNDP Men who have Sex with Men (MSM), Transgender (TG) and HIV project entitled, “Strategic Information and Community Leadership among MSM and TG populations”.
This project, for which the UNDP has allocated USD 1.5 million in funding is a 3-year HIV prevention, information and capacity building project specifically targeted at the (MSM) and (TG) community in the Philippines.