Leaders meet for advocacy vs HIV in Bikol

SORSOGON CITY--An advocacy meeting for local chief executives of Sorsogon province is set Friday to help address the increasing problem and threats of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Sorsogon Governor Sally A. Lee called the one-day activity to initiate a local response and the establishment of a local coordinating mechanism to address the increasing number of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) in the province.

The latest statistics from the Bicol Reproductive Health Information Network (BRHIN), a non-government organization, revealed that as of December 2008, there are 60 HIV-positive cases reported throughout the region.

The BRHIN also stated that 23 of these are in Albay, 15 are in Camarines Sur, eight in Catanduanes, four in Camarines Norte and one in Masbate. Sorsogon recorded the 3rd highest with nine cases.

Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has also been increasing in the region. According to medical experts, the increase in STDs is basically behavioral in nature as well as lack in education. Critical to its prevention is the formation of advocacy measures, especially through local government executives in hot spot areas for sustained local response on STIs and HIV.

In order to address the health and societal threats of STDs in the province, Governor Lee directed the Provincial Health Office (PHO) to initiate a concerted effort between local chief executives to formulate stronger measures against spread of STD as well as re-establish or foster a stronger link between the Philippine National Aids Council (PNAC), UNAID, other external partners and local government units.

These are viewed as urgent in identifying priority needs for initiating and, or sustaining local response.

Dr. Gladys Escote of the Provincial Health Office said that the past efforts to control the spreads of STDs were not sustained which may have resulted in the increase of report cases in the province.

Participants expected to attend the advocacy meeting are the local chief executives, health and planning officers, the Provincial and Municipal Health and Social Welfare Officers, Department of Interior and Local Government head and representatives from nongovernment organizations. (PNA)