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ASEAN delegates impressed with Philippines’ Anti-HIV-AIDS Program

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Youth leaders from ASEAN member-countries lauded the Philippine government particularly Quezon City’s anti HIV-AIDS program, particularly its non-discrimination policy in its social hygiene clinics.
The youth leaders from Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Brunei, Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia together with officials of the National Youth Commission of the Philippines.
ASEAN youth leaders held a “side summit” tackling the region’s HIV-AIDS problem and its effect on the youth.
Quezon City was selected by the Department of Health as a model on how local governments should address the HIV-AIDS problem.
According to Puwish Bowarnditkhunlanad, an alumnus of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and a student of Chiang Mai University in Thailand, Klinika Bernardo has a good community-based campaign in the prevention of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.
“Even me I got knowledge about using condom and how it protects me from HIV. I hope to teach this in my country. In Thailand people are treated in a hospital and it’s very crowded, but here it’s nice. The clinic is available from 3pm to 11pm,” said Bowarnditkhunlanad.
He said the Quezon City government should be congratulated for initiating the move to establish a non-discriminatory facility for HIV-AIDS patients that caters not only to Quezon City residents but to anyone who wish to avail of its services.
Klinika Bernardo offers confidentiality and non-discriminatory services to its clients. The staff are well-trained in male sexual health, counseling of patient and their families and in the treatment of HIV-AIDS.
Klinika Bernardo, which was established during the 1st term of Mayor Herbert Bautista in 2012, is located at the back of Ramon Magsaysay High School, EDSA across Mega Q-Mart in Cubao, Quezon City.
Since then, two other similar facilities have been up in Quezon City.
Klinika Novaliches and Klinika Project 7 are the other sundown health care clinics in the city for HIV-AIDS patients.
“Ito po ay pasilidad na naging commitment ng Quezon City. Isa ang Pilipinas sa mga bansa at tanging ang Quezon City lamang ang siyudad sa bansa na kasapi ng tinatawag nating ASEAN Getting to Zero na inadapt po during the 19th ASEAN summit sa Bali, Indonesia. In-adapt po o kinomit po ang tinatawag na United Nations Declaration on HIV prevention,” Dr. Verdades Linga, QC Health Department head, said.
“Hinihikayat ko po lahat. Ang una pong dapat nating malaman ay kung HIV positive at wala naman pong exemption dito. Lahat po ay may posibilidad na magkaroon ng sakit lalo na kung mayroon tayong tinatawag na ‘risky behavior.’ Hinihikayat ko po na magpa-test po. Sa test lamang po natin malalaman kung tayo’y HIV positive,” Dr. Linga said.
Mayor Herbert Bautista signed city ordinance 2249-2013 authored by Councilors Jessica Castelo Daza and Dorothy A. Delarmente, establishing a male-focused diagnostic, treatment and referral facility especially for HIV-AIDS, which later Klinika Bernardo.
Mayor Bautista wants to improve and invest on Klinika Bernardo being the very first ever male sundown clinic operating from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm Mayor Bautista has taken a keen interest in stemming the tide of human immunodeficiency virus infections among all genders and transgenders.
“There may be other places in the country where our experience is happening, only that we don’t know about them. Klinika Bernardo should serve as a wake-up call to the government,” said Bautista.
“Pwede po nilang i-replicate ito at gawin kung anong ginagawa ng Klinika Bernardo sa kanilang mga bansa. Maaari nilang ibahagi sa pagbalik nila sa kanilang mga bansa ang mga natutunan nila mula dito sa Klinika Bernardo,” Dr. Linga said.

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.