So the March 2019-data came out today and yet again, we have mixed reactions around the rising number of new cases in the country.
First off, we look at the numbers and the most current reports say that we have more than 65,000 cases since 1984. If we’re familiar with the report, we would already know that the more common mode of transmission in the country is through unprotected penetrative sex yada yada yada… But what does the 65,000 really mean?
We have an AEM, I think it stands for the AIDS Epidemiology Model, that projects the number of cases in the country– with other disaggregations (or breakdowns). A couple of weeks ago, I was told by a friend that the AEM has been updated and that the projected number of PLHIV in the country is at 90,000 (I had it fixed at 70,000+ for some time). We evidently are far from the projection.
What about the projections?
- If these projections are accurate, it means that this is our (entry-level) basis for the first 90 of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target. 90% of people living with HIV know their status? 65,000/90,000 multiplied by 100 would give you the percentage (use your calculator).
- Given these projections, there should be a regional or city-level disaggregation so further planning may be done down to the grassroots. Hence, cities and municipalities are not blind when they plan out their programs and budget. Note that geographically contiguous (or adjacent) locations may need to consider the fact that people can easily move from one place to another– as such, inter-city and a more synchronized program across the different locations may be ideal (?).
- The projections are also needed for the national and local budgets to be carefully planned. Procurement and buffers of anti-retroviral drugs (ArV) and other prophylactic drugs may have to consider these projections, for one.
- The projections will grow year on year as they (whoever are doing the projections) update the AEM data. I would think that if we were to laymanize this, if you have 10 PLHIV undiagnosed out there having unprotected sex, next year how much of these 10 would have passed the HIV on to (how much more) others.
What’s been said before
I already said in previous blogs around the registry that the new cases mean that we are reaching more and more people. I said the same thing in a recent radio interview. I also said before that we’re seeing more and more people accessing the HIV services in the different locations. I also said before that we appreciate the efforts of our different partners acting on the program.
What needs to be done
A LOT still.
We need to understand as community members the different data sets available in our environment.
Heck, did you know that the different cities have population estimates for MSM, Transgender women, Female / Male sex workers, etc.? This is a good (maybe not perfect) basis when you look at your current location you’re working on.
This is where being an “advocate” comes in. As volunteers, we may not have the same level of appreciation, understanding and ACCESS to data available for our response planning. As an advocate, we want to act on the available data and help institutionalize programs in place– as oppose to a volunteer who would push and act more on the programs per se at the grassroots level.
NOTE: I am not downgrading the importance of volunteers in the community- THEY WILL always remain the backbones of the whatever programs are put in place across different locations and agencies.
We also call on our AEM Data-holders to roll out the information down to the different civil society organizations we programs are built around the available (evidence-based) data.
So when we look at the HIV/AIDS Registry, don’t look and talk.
LOOK AND ACT.
LOOK, PLAN AND ACT.
LOOK, PLAN, PLACE AND ACT.
Whichever works best for you.
Again, one life reached is one life saved.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a “full blown” take on the AEM’s role in our programs.