To commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, U.S. Ambassador MaryKay Carlson leads the symbolic handover of 86,000 HIV viral load testing cartridges to the DOH with the PEPFAR Philippines Interagency in the presence of Senator Risa Hontiveros, Manila City Councilor for Health Dr. Louisito Chua, DOH Usec. Carolina Vidal-Taiño, representatives of the Metro Manila Center for Health Development, and members of the people living with HIV community.

On World AIDS Day, U.S. Ambassador MaryKay Carlson presented the Philippine government with 86,000 HIV viral load testing cartridges worth P85 million ($1.5 million).

Carlson said the donation shows the U.S. government’s commitment to working with the DOH, Filipinos living with HIV, and local governments like Manila City to ensure equitable access to viral load tests.

“With this donation, we aim to amplify the hopeful message of U equals U: that undetectable is indeed untransmittable,” she said in a press statement Thursday.

In addition to Senator Risa Hontiveros, Dr. Louisito Chua, the Manila City Councilor for Health, Carolina Vidal-Taio, the DOH Undersecretary, and others were present at the occasion.

The cartridges, obtained through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will be provided to HIV treatment hubs and facilities throughout the Philippines. They are anticipated to meet the nation’s requirements for viral load testing for all patients receiving HIV treatment for a full year.

“This donation of more than 86,000 viral load cartridges from the United States government will be pivotal to the country’s HIV treatment program,” said Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“We are filled with so much hope that we will no longer have to lose our loved ones to HIV and that we will be able to carry on with our lives, free from worry and stigma,” Network Plus co-convenor Elena Felix said on behalf of the PLHIV community.

Since December 2020, the U.S. government has provided more than P1 billion ($18.2 million) to the Philippine government through PEPFAR to support HIV prevention, case finding, and treatment interventions. This includes a donation of more than 81,000 bottles of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), an HIV-preventive drug that is being distributed by the DOH in more than 50 facilities across Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon. This donation, valued at Php 31.3 million ($552,996), was turned over to the Philippine government in June 2021.

These recent donations signify the U.S. government’s commitment to support the Philippines in addressing supply chain bottlenecks in the procurement of critical commodities in HIV detection and treatment and in achieving the country’s goal to end AIDS by 2030 through evidence-based strategies.