UNAIDS director holds virtual mission to PH
Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS executive director, made her first virtual mission to the Philippines last May 11 and 12, 2021. A day before the two-day visit, she tweeted: "Excited for my first virtual mission, to meet with frontliners of the #HIV & #COVID19 responses in the Philippines. Philippines has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world and the fastest in Asia/Pacific. So this is a critical time, ahead of June's #HLMAIDS2021."
The UNAIDS director's itinerary included virtual meetings with communities, civil society leaders and representatives from the government. She was reported to have met with health secretary Francisco Duque III, senator Risa Hontiveros, and a group of leaders from civil society who are involved in the country's HIV responses. The civil society meeting included Mr. Anastacio M. Marasigan Jr., executive director of TLF Share Collective and member of the Philippine National AIDS Council.
Mr. Marasigan was quoted on UNAIDS' official release about the mission: "We welcome the virtual mission of Ms Byanyima to help amplify the HIV response in the Philippines. We are hopeful this visit will translate into greater political, technical and funding support to get us back on track since the COVID-19 pandemic has set us back significantly."
In a Facebook post, Senator Risa Hontiveros, the lead author of Republic Act 11166, Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act, thanked the UNAIDS for the opportunity to meet Winnie Byanyima: "Maraming salamat sa UNAIDS for meeting with me as principal author and sponsor of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act. We talked about the Philippine fight against HIV/AIDS, lalo na ngayon na ang daming nangangailangan. Dapat LAHAT makabangon mula sa pandemya. #DapatAll #StayHealthStayHappy #HealthyPinas"
Senator Hontiveros, who is also the author of the SOGIE anti-discrimination bill in the Senate, was honored by TLF Share and Lagablab LGBT Network with the Equality Champion award in 2018.
The United Nations High-Level Meeting (HLM) on HIV and AIDS will be held on June 8 to 10, 2021. The meeting will review the progress made in reducing the impact of HIV since 2016, and is expected to adopt a new political declaration on the future direction of the response. The Department of Health has identified Dr. Ma. Rosario Vergeire, undersecretary of health in charge of public health services, to lead the country's delegation at the HLM.