Recent medical advances are due to the huge amounts of time and resources poured by governments and private institutions worldwide to find solutions. From 2000 to 2015 alone, a study in medical journal The Lancet estimated that $562 billion dollars have been spent on HIV/AIDs.
The WHO warns that HIV remains one of the biggest public health challenges across the globe, causing over 32 million deaths so far. In 2018, the WHO estimated that 37.9 million all over the world are living with HIV.
The WHO HIV Profile for the Philippines showed that an estimated 77,000 people in the country have the virus. Of these, 59,000 or 76% are aware they are infected, while 33,600 or 44% are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). In 1998, the government passed the AIDS Prevention and Control Act, with raising HIV awareness in the Philippines among its stated objectives.
AIDS and HIV Awareness in the Philippines
The Philippines National Demographic and Health Survey, which shows prevailing knowledge and attitudes about health issues in the country, provides a good measure of the success of this law as it monitors the prevalence of HIV and AIDS.
The latest survey published in 2018 was conducted nationally, involving women from close to 28,000 households. It shed light on public awareness about HIV and aids:
- The survey showed that nine in 10 respondents said they have heard about HIV and AIDS.
- Two-thirds or 66% are aware that using condoms prevent HIV transmission.
- 84% know that limiting sexual intercourse to one uninfected partner without other partners reduces HIV risks.
- 6 in 10 know of both of these HIV prevention methods, an improvement from the 45% in 2003.
- The study further noted that knowledge about HIV is better among respondents with higher educational attainment and wealth.
- A quarter of respondents without education are unaware about HIV prevention methods. In comparision, there is 74% awareness among college graduates.
- The study further found that 7 in 10 respondents had discriminatory attitudes against HIV-positive people.
- 53% said HIV positive children should study in separate schools from those who do not have it.
- 61% said they would not buy fresh vegetables from a shop owner with AIDS.
HIV Awareness in the Philippines: Key Takeaways
A 2010 study on the National Library of Medicine, meanwhile, noted that among the AIDS and HIV misconceptions are that prayer, antibiotics and keeping fit will protect against the disease, that it can be prevented by a cocktail of drinks, douching with detergents, interrupting sex and washing the penis. It also noted that 6 in 10 believed then that there is already a cure. Among the ongoing questions is whether the virus can be contracted from kissing, oral sex or from public restrooms.
Some believe HIV always progresses to AIDS, and that HIV is a death sentence. But decades of research has shown that these are simply myths borne by the need for better public health education.
These attitudes show that HIV awareness in the Philippines can still be improved. The Philippines’ Department of Health is doing their part to educate the public, and we should all do our part to debunk myths and raise HIV awareness in the Philippines.
Learn more about HIV/AIDS here.