DOH gets anti-HIV drugs donation by US to PH

FIGHTING HIV. US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law joins Philippine Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, and HIV AIDS Support House Executive Director Desi Andrew Ching, at the handover at the Executive Lounge of the Quezon City Hall on Friday (June 25, 2021). A total of 20,000 bottles of HIV drugs were donated during the event. (Photo courtesy of US Embassy in Manila)

The Department of Health (DOH) has recently received the 20,000 bottles of human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) prevention drugs or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) donated by the  United States government to the Philippines.

The handover rites for drug donation held at the Quezon City Hall Executive Lounge, coincided with the formal launch of the P500 million (USD10.3 million) USAID-President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program in the Philippines.

During the rites, US Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires John Law said the US government is committed to supporting the Philippines in its efforts to end AIDS by 2030 through evidence-based strategies, including the DOH’s PrEP program.

“This first tranche of HIV prevention drugs is an initial step toward achieving the country’s goal of ending AIDS. 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 partner in realizing an AIDS-free Philippines,” Law said.

The US Embassy said a surge of HIV infections may be  anticipated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has reduced access to, and uptake of HIV testing and treatment services,

The PrEP donation is a much-needed addition to the HIV prevention arsenal in the Philippines, and through the PEPFAR program, USAID will complement the DOH’s work in HIV toward sustainable financing, efficient procurement, supply chain management, and evidence-based, and client-centered care.

Law said USAID will also work with DOH in building systems to ensure a steady supply of commodities and drugs.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, who welcomed the latest US aid, said they 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.”

Duque noted that with almost 50 facilities across Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) ready to provide free PrEP, USAID-PEPFAR will reach over 3,500 people from key populations with HIV prevention drugs over two years.

The Embassy said the PEPFAR support for HIV prevention drugs is part of the US government’s commitment of more than P875 million (US$18.2 million) for the US-Philippines bilateral HIV prevention and control efforts, with implementation support from the USAID, US Centers for Disease Control, US Health Resources and Services Administration, and the US Department of Defense.