Butuan City - The Department of the Interior and Local Government Region 13 in response to the increasing number of HIV cases in Caraga Region has urged local government units to help stop the proliferation of HIV and AIDS.

According to the Department of Health, 123 Persons Living with HIV (PLHIVs) were recorded as of July 2014, 23 of which are cases from January to July, this year. This translates to an average of 3 - 4 new infections every month.

RD Lilibeth A. Famacion said that HIV and AIDS is not just a public health threat but a governance issue as well.

"The proliferation of HIV and AIDS will have direct impact on poverty, social services delivery and public safety. "With this, we wanted to strengthen our support to this program through the establishment of Local Aids Council (LAC) and encourage LGUs to do their share,” she said.  

In 2009, the Department has issued a Memorandum enjoining LGUs to create Local AIDS Council (LAC) to function as coordinating body in implementing HIV and AIDS program, however; not all LGUs responded accordingly due to lack of information and urgency. Hence, the DILG regional office took upon itself to push the advocacy of establishing LAC in every LGU.

"Through the years, we allocate funds, assign a focal person for the program and conduct advocacy and orientation to LGUs, prioritizing those with highest number of cases", RD Famacion said.

This year, the Department has oriented more than 200 participants from various backgrounds and sectors to include Mayors, SB members, teachers, religious members, young people, civil society leaders and gay communities.

"We will continue to encourage LGUs to make HIV and AIDS program, a priority program for health", RD Famacion added.
The DILG-initiated advocacies generate warm support and positive responses from the Local Chief Executives.

Bayugan City Mayor Kim Lope Asis, said that the Bayugan City Local AIDS Council will spearhead orientation to different schools in the city.
Mayor Deo Manpatilan of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur also pledge to significantly increase the budget for HIV and AIDS program.

"With all the help from LGUs, we have high hopes that HIV and AIDS prevalence rate in the region will eventually decline, if not stopping new cases at all", RD Famacion emphasized. (LGOO II Bryan F. Edulzura)

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