A newly-trained facilitator holds up a condom before explaining how to use it correctly. (Photo credit: Belle Cortezano)

The non-profit group Roots of Health conducted this week a 5-day training for health workers on Community-Based Screening (CBS) as part of its campaign to address the HIV-AIDS problem in the province.

ROH Executive Director, Amina Evangelista Swanepoel said in a press statement the training was conducted for volunteer peer educators to become Community-based screeners and also for provincial participants who are already CBS screeners to become CBS trainers themselves.

She added that the training was also intended to provide information and access to HIV screening services in Palawan.

The training was held in partnership with the Palawan Provincial Department of Health, the Puerto Princesa Social Hygiene Clinic, the Aids Society of the Philippines (ASP), Municipal Health Offices of Palawan, and Manan Trust.

“Puerto Princesa has one of the highest rates of HIV incidence in the Philippines. But that may be the tip of the iceberg, because screening services in Palawan municipalities are currently limited,” Swanepoel said.

“We cannot just sit back and wait for the Department of Health to fully implement the HIV/AIDS law, nor can we rely on the Palawan provincial government as they have not allocated ample funds for the reproductive health budget,” she added.

Currently 80% of the country’s HIV program costs are covered by the Global Fund, which operates in 38 sites.

Swanepoel said the project will end in 2020, so in the next two years the Philippine government will need to take charge of the HIV response.

World statistics show that 25% of people living with HIV do not know that they have the virus, according to ROH.

“While there are no Philippines-specific statistics on this, based on global HIV trends, it is safe to assume that a huge proportion of the people living with HIV do not know they have the virus,” its statement added.

People wanting to get tested can contact their Municipal Health Office, the Provincial Health Office, or the Bantay HIV Palawan Facebook Page.

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