Monday, January 30, 2017

DANCE FOR HOPE, DANCE TO THE LIGHT: HIV Prevention for the Youth

Santolan High School
The Philippines is in the midst of a concentrated epidemic. The rise in new HIV cases is alarming!  The total new cases from January 1, 2016 to October 31, 2016 alone was 7,756 or an average of 26 new cases per day1.  In June 2016, there were 841 new HIV antibody sero-positive individuals. This was 16% higher compared to the same period last year.  Most (96%) were male. The median age was 27 years old (age range:1 year-66 years). More than half belong to the 25-34 year age group while  226 (27%) were youth aged 15-24 years. Among the 15-24 age group, most (94%) were male. Ninety-nine percent (215) were infected through sexual contact (26 male-female sex, 118 male-male sex, 71 sex with both males & females) and 3 (1%) through needle sharing among IDU2. The report also noted that the age group with the biggest proportion of cases has become younger: from 2001 to 2005, it was 35-49 years; from 2006 to 2010, it was 25-34 years; and from 2011 to 2016, it was 20-29 years. Notably, the proportion of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the 15-24 year age group increased from 25% in 2006-2010 to 28% in 2011-2016.

Thus the HIV/AIDS problem continues to rampage in our country, infecting mostly young males. It causes devastation among those whose lives are infected and affected. Despite the availability of HIV testing for earlier diagnosis and very effective antiretroviral drugs to suppress the disease, this epidemic continues.
Systematic reviews on interventions to prevent HIV in other countries have shown that school-based approaches were efficacious3,4,5,6,7 and cost-effective8 and were seen to produce the largest impact in changing HIV-related behaviors.
Thus interventions targeted to address lack of access to relevant health information among young individuals during the period of highest risk may provide potential solutions to the problem here in the Philippines.  Targeting youth while in school is a strategy with high feasibility potential of providing a feasible mechanism for the wide systematic implementation in the future.
In response, The Medical City, through its I-REACT Clinic and Support Group, in collaboration with the Pasig City Government- in the true spirit of Private Public Partnership, has launched the project entitled DANCE FOR HOPE, DANCE TO THE LIGHT.  This is a evidence-based from various researches9-17,  multi-strategy campaign to prevent HIV/AIDS among our youth. This campaign includes a school-based information caravan to over 12,000 Grade 10 students of Pasig City and will culminate in an interschool dance competition using black light theater with HIV Prevention as theme.

The most-awaited DANCE FOR HOPE, DANCE TO THE LIGHT event was held last January 28, 2017 at the Augusto Barcelon Auditorium of The Medical CIty where student teams from several schools of Pasig City that showcased their creative interpretative dance presentations of the theme: Preventing HIV/AIDS: Saving Lives through a Caring Community.

Proudly, they claim that this PPP initiative is the first of its kind for HIV prevention in youth here in the Philippines and hopes to create impact among our youth. Their future is our future!

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