After 22 years, the partnership between Positive Action Foundation Philippines (PAFPI) and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA has come to an end. Over this time, PAFPI’s work has made a significant difference to the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS in the Philippines.
PAFPI was formed in 1998 by Filipinos living with HIV/AIDS and their families. PAFPI’s mission is to contribute to the national responses in advocacy, prevention, care, treatment and support for people living with HIV and AIDS, and their affected family members.
Their goal is to be a sustainable organisation in partnership with local and international stakeholders to facilitate, advocate, and promote comprehensive, quality and compassionate care, support and treatment to people infected and affected with HIV and AIDS.
The PAFPI-APHEDA partnership began in 2000, two years after PAFPI’s formation, with APHEDA supporting PAFPI’s programs to empower people with HIV/AIDS. In the early years of the partnership, funding from APHEDA enabled PAFPI to transform from a voluntary organisation to a formalised community-led organisation with paid staff and an office.
Over 22 years, the aims of the program evolved to cover a wide range of activities, including HIV/AIDS education, awareness-raising, pre-departure training for migrant workers, advocacy and lobbying for policy change, facilitating access to treatment, referral systems, providing counselling and psycho-social support, home-based care programs, a drop-in centre and short-term emergency accommodation for people living with HIV/AIDS.
In August 2022, as the partnership came to an end, APHEDA and PAFPI conducted a partnership review to reflect on what we had achieved over these 22 years. Some of the many highlights included:
- In 2001 PAFPI led the first national PLWHA consultation in the Philippines which facilitated a cohesive community demand for free anti-retro viral treatments. PAFPI and their allies were able to successfully lobby for the government to provide free generic anti-retro viral treatment for all people living with HIV/AIDS in the Philippines. When this policy was introduced in 2004, it was life-changing for people living with HIV/AIDS who could live healthier lives and engage in work and community.
- APHEDA’s approach of ‘solidarity, not charity’ enabled PAFPI to plan and implement activities in line with the priorities and needs of the community in a responsive way, and to trial new approaches.
- Exposure to HIV/AIDS programs from Australia and other countries where APHEDA had partnerships helped PAFPI to innovate in how they deliver services to people living with HIV/AIDS. A study tour in 2000 to Australia stands was a foundational learning experience that shaped much of PAFPI’s approach.
- Engagement with overseas contract workers, especially seafarers, to deliver pre-departure training on HIV/AIDS which reached tens of thousands of workers each year, for which UNESCAP recognised PAFPI’s training as a best practice.
- Treatment and care services provided to thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS enabled them to reengage with mainstream society through being more able to work, care for family and engage in community events. In turn, this helped to increase family acceptance and support, reducing stigma and the barriers they face.
- PAFPI have developed and raised greater awareness of the rights of people with HIV/AIDS, and supported them to claim their rights. In particular, they used innovative sexual health promotion outreach to specific marginalised groups in Philippines, such as sex workers, gay men, bakla (queer men), drivers, and informal economy workers
- Provision of training workshops to local government healthcare workers, upskilling them to be able to provide counselling as part of their HIV screening and counselling services has increased the capacity of the healthcare system.
- The partnership supported PAFPI to recognise the need to become independent without requiring international funding support so that PAFPI can be self-reliant.
Over the 22 years of partnership with APHEDA, PAFPI has been able to build their capacity as a holistic organisation, led by people living with HIV/AIDS. They have developed other income sources to make the organisation more independent, created a strong multi-sector approach to address the multi-faceted challenges of HIV/AIDS and led advocacy campaigns, contributing to political change which improves the living standards of all Filipinos living with HIV/AIDS.
This program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and members of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA.