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NGO bares Duterte admin strategy in fighting AIDS

SOUTHERN LEYTE, Philippines – It’s 90% – 90% – 90%.
That is the way the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte intends to approach the fight against acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), according to a non-government organization (NGO) that devotes its energy on spreading awreness and education.
At the AIDS media orientation in this posh resort last month, Mr. Celestino Ramirez, Master HIV Trainer connected with Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI), disclosed that the first 90% refers to those infected, “to let them know they are infected, to avoid contamination and furher infection.”
The second 90% rate would be focused on the ministering of anti-retroviral drugs or anti-retroviral therapy for those who knew they have it.
“These drugs suppress spread of the virus prolonging life, but no total healing,” Ramirez qualified.
The last 90% targets those who are religiously given the proper care and medication, and the person living with the disease will no longer be capable of infecting others.
But estimates on where to base the 90% seemed to be the initial challenge those in the health frontlines would have to confront, as figures kept on changing by the day.
In Ramirez’s own reckoning as per records in the country from 1984 to October 2016, some 38,113 individuals had voluntarily submitted for screening on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the precursor of AIDS, even as the estimated figure was 56,000 persons living with HIV.
Finding the difference of 17,887 would require a concerted effort of gentle yet firm persuasion by friends, relatives, families so those concerned will come out for testing, a medical process that is free, Ramirez declared.
By the time Ramirez discussed these statistics last month, the rate of HIV infection was placed at 26 cases per day.
This month, January 2017, however, media reports said the present rate of HIV infection was down to 19 persons per day.
Either the 90-90-90 formula had started getting inspiring results, or new infections still go unreported and have yet to be reached out.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.