FIGHT AIDS AWARENESS Campaign. A group of students from the University of the Philippines Open University hopes to spread greater awareness on AIDS/HIV. Noting that it’s a serious problem in the Philippines and we feel it is our role to educate Filipinos on the associated risks from as early as their teenage years.

Of course, the Philippine Teens Media / Pinoy Teens Online community did not hesitate to support this cause and to spread the information on how challenging it is in truth to fight AIDS if attitude and behavior stands in your way.

Below, you’ll find an exclusive interview and additional details which we hope will be of use to you. Help us make people aware of this and help us fight AIDS together. Share, like or even tweet this post to your friends and followers!

Attitude and Behavior — Still Major Issues in the Fight Against AIDS

(An Interview with Mr. Bong Yap, Project Coordinator, AIDS Society of the Philippines)

The AIDS Society of the Philippines is one of the leading non-government organizations advocating HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. It is unique as its membership is comprised of individual professional members who support its mandate of campaigning for the education, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Its primary objective is, “To assist in the prevention and control of the spread of HIV in the Philippines and serve as a national forum for exchange of information in collaboration with AIDS service organizations and other agencies involved in AIDS work.”

Mr Bong Yap completed a degree in Economics and worked for the large part of his career in the private sector. He joined the AIDS Society of the Philippines in 1999 and has not left ever since. From this period he has seen how the issue of AIDS/HIV has evolved through the years.

The following highlight his responses to interview questions on the topic.

How has the trend been for AIDS/HIV cases in the Philippines in the last five (5) years?

“Majority of HIV positive individuals would fall within the 25 – 29 year old age group and are dominantly male. These men are also largely homosexual. Five (5) years ago we would have 5 – 10 cases reported at a time, now we would get 100. At that time the dramatic increase could also be the outcome of consistent awareness campaigns on AIDS. Consistently reaching out could have resulted in more HIV positive people to come out and seek help.”

On Prevention and control. Mr. Yap shared that this is something that the society can do through continuous spreading of the awareness on HIV/AIDS. What is interesting about the society is that it is made up individual members. While the society is an NGO, above all, we are also a professional group. It opens up a lot of doors for the society and the individual members to enhance our work and bring it a notch higher.”

What are the key areas of difficulty in your work?

Community’s Attitude Towards AIDS. “AIDS has the same stigma as something like leprosy. People are afraid that we would contract it like a virus. For example, there was a family that was in San Lazaro hospital for HIV testing. We were kept there and were being protected from our community that wanted to burn all of them. Such attitude makes acceptance and integration very difficult for HIV-positive individuals.”

Behavior. “While much headway has already been achieved in the awareness campaign on AIDS, people remain careless and expose themselves to risk. Despite people’s awareness re the disease, people would still not practice “safe sex” and will not use condoms or will get involved with multiple sex partners. We also work a lot with prostitutes and provide free condoms. But when the supply runs out, these prostitutes will move on without the use of condoms. While the awareness is high, people would still not change our behavior. This is why the awareness must always be reinforced.”

Funding. “Being an NGO, the AIDS Society is dependent on donations. This means that while we may have worthy and efficient programs, our realization will always be dependent on whether there is funding obtained from donations. Primary source of funding is from the Global Fund for AIDS.”

How do you get your message out?

Target Audience. “The AIDS Society targets the following groups: homosexuals, prostitutes, migrant workers (OFWs) and drug users. We also target the general population of adolescents to brief them early on regarding the risks, etc.”

Stakeholder Support. “The AIDS Society has organized itself in a way that it is able to work closely together with the following groups in rolling out our campaigns and programs:

Local Government Units (LGUs) – specific activities with the LGUs include training and counseling, testing, peer education. The objective is to keep on scaling up AIDS/HIV awareness and knowledge of members of the local government and our other units i.e. youth groups. The AIDS Society is present in 16 sites all over the country through our work with LGUs. For blood safety and testing, the society has 23 sites all over the country.

The Church – The Daughters of Charity is an example of a religious congregation that fully supports our ideals; “Church” or religious organization means an “inter-faith” approach where we can work with all religions; an example is the support we get also from Iglesia ni Cristo;

Government Agencies – such as the DOLE that supports the program of having an “AIDS information counter” in the workplace, such as those being put up in call centers.
Individuals Members/Private Citizens – as mentioned earlier, the society is composed mainly of individual professionals who help push the society forward;

AIDS Data: http://www.doh.gov.ph/nec/images/ihbss/2005esti.pdf

For more info on AIDS/HIV, visit http://aidsfree2011.blogspot.com/

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This marks just one of many Community Campaigns that WE support. Watch out for the rise of a new Save Davao Shrine Hills website!