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TRAINING WORKSHOPS. Youth leaders discuss concrete steps to promote HIV awareness in their communities. Photo by Katerina Francisco
Changing the face of AIDS

in PHILIPPINES, 07/12/2012

“No other disease is more wrapped in social stigma than AIDS.” Phillip Palmos, chairperson of the Youth AIDS Filipinas Alliance, thinks it's unfair. Like others suffering from disease, people living with HIV have to take medication.

“From the start, AIDS is seen not as a disease but a morality issue,” Palmos said. “People die from it, but it's always been seen as a judgment on the lifestyle of the person who contracted the disease.” It's been 30 years, but the social stigma attached to people living with HIV is still as resilient as the AIDS epidemic.

Three decades of medical advances have seen the rise of antiretroviral drugs that prevent viral replication, but there still is no definitive cure for HIV. Since 1981, 25 million worldwide have died from HIV. According to the 2012 United Nations Global Results report on AIDS, 34 million people are afflicted with AIDS.

The 2012 report also has positive news: worldwide, incidents of HIV infections have dropped by more than 50% in a decade. The Philippines, though, bucks the trend, with at least 9 new cases being reported every day, compared to only one new case every 3 days in 2000.

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