U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law joined Philippine Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, and HIV AIDS Support House Executive Director Desi Andrew Ching, at the handover ceremony on Friday.

The Philippine Department of Health received 20,000 bottles of HIV preventive medications, often known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), from the U.S. government as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) (DOH).

The handover took place on June 25, the same day that the USAID-PEPFAR program in the Philippines was officially launched with a budget of P500 million ($10.3 million).

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law reaffirmed the US government’s commitment to assisting the country in its efforts to eliminate AIDS by 2030 by implementing evidence-based initiatives such as the Department of Health’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.” 

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 added. 

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 Php875 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.

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