The United States government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), handed over 20,000 bottles of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention drugs, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), to the Department of Health (DOH) in anticipation of the rise in HIV infection as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday’s handover coincided with the formal launch of the P500 million ($10.3 million) USAID-PEPFAR program in the Philippines.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law reiterated the U.S. government’s commitment to support the country in its journey to ending AIDS by 2030 through evidence-based strategies like DOH’s PrEP program.
“This first tranche of HIV prevention drugs is an initial step toward achieving the country’s goal of ending AIDS,” said Law.
“We have a long road ahead of us, and the journey will not be easy, but the U.S. government shares your vision and is committed to standing by your side as a partner in realizing an AIDS-free Philippines,” Law added.
With the anticipated rise in HIV infections as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced access to and uptake of HIV testing and treatment services, “PrEP is a much-needed addition to the HIV prevention arsenal in the Philippines,” Law said.
Through the PEPFAR program, USAID will complement the DOH’s work in HIV toward sustainable financing, efficient procurement and supply chain management, and evidence-based, client-centered care. USAID will also work with DOH on building systems to ensure the steady supply of drugs and commodities.
DOH welcomed this U.S. government support. “We know that the use of PrEP works effectively to prevent HIV transmission and including this in our coordinated HIV response will spell the difference in our fight against HIV,” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III.
With almost 50 facilities across Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) ready to provide free PrEP, USAID-PEPFAR will reach over 3,500 clients from key populations with HIV prevention drugs over two years.
This PEPFAR support for HIV prevention drugs is part of the U.S. government commitment of more than P875 million ($18.2 million) over two years for U.S.-Philippines bilateral HIV prevention and control efforts, with implementation by USAID, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense.