The EpiC QUILTS Awards, now in its second year, continues to recognize outstanding health facilities and partner organizations that have provided care and treatment to people living with HIV (PLHIV). The awards ceremony took place last May 22, 2023, at the Ynares Center Antipolo, in time for the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM) Commemoration.
Quality Uptake and Improvements in Lifesaving Treatment Services or QUILTS was inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt — a global symbol of solidarity in the fight to end HIV and in remembrance of those who we lost from preventable AIDS-related illnesses. The QUILTS Awards started in 2022 through the Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) project in the Philippines, which is led by FHI 360 and funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This event is in collaboration with the AIDS Society of the Philippines and Department of Health (DOH) Centers for Health and Development in CALABARZON, Central Luzon, and Metro Manila.
“Like last year, we continue to honor the outstanding work being done by various facilities, organizations, and local government units as they collectively provide quality care and treatment for people living with HIV,” said Teresita Bagasao, project director for EpiC Philippines. “The goal of the QUILTS Awards is to empower these frontliners by recognizing their important contribution to end the HIV epidemic in the Philippines by 2030.”
The QUILTS Awards include the following main categories:
· Excellence Award for HIV Treatment Initiation
· Excellence Award for HIV Treatment Retention
· Excellence Award for Viral Load Coverage
· Differentiated HIV Treatment Services (Overall Champion)
The recipients of the awards were determined through the accomplishments of EpiC-supported facilities in greater Metro Manila based on data provided by the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau. A panel of judges consisting of HIV experts and advocates from UNAIDS Philippines, AIDS Society of the Philippines, and USAID determined the recipients of the awards based on criteria reflecting consistent quality delivery of HIV treatment services. These awards are in the areas of starting people living with HIV on lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART), ensuring that they adhere to this treatment, and finally obtain regular viral load tests. A person living with HIV that adheres to their ART can achieve an undetectable status, a point where the virus is no longer detectable in their blood and therefore cannot be transmitted sexually.
According to Bagasao, “The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial celebrated annually every third Sunday of May is important globally as it honors those who have passed from AIDS-related illnesses. As advances in HIV treatment now allow us to prevent AIDS-related deaths, it is equally important for everyone to know that there is a community of dedicated frontline HIV workers who ensure that each person diagnosed with HIV will live a long and productive life through accessing treatment services.”
HIV treatment services are provided free in the Philippines through the DOH. These can be accessed from government clinics and community-based and private treatment facilities certified by the DOH. These services can be booked through Quickres.org.
Last year’s winners include Luntiang Silong-Bulacan Medical Center, which won two awards: Linkage to Care and Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD) and Case Management.
Dr. Concepcion Garcia-Lat, City Health Officer of this year’s host Antipolo City, highlighted the importance of collaborative work in delivering HIV services to key populations. “Our work in Antipolo Social Hygiene Clinic involves assistance from development partners like PEPFAR. USAID, and EpiC. While DOH and our provincial and local governments ensure that enough investments are put towards HIV services, we are thankful that our development partners are there to provide additional technical support,” Garcia-Lat added.
With over 250 participants, this momentous occasion unites passionate HIV advocates, dedicated medical professionals, and influential community leaders. This special gathering will commemorate the tremendous strides made in the fight against HIV in the Philippines. Adding to the festivity, attendees will be treated to electrifying performances by Drag Race PH’s Lady Morgana, and soulful duets from singer-songwriter Nica del Rosario and artist Justine Peña. It is sure to be a celebration of hope, resilience, and progress towards a brighter future for those living with HIV.
The EpiC projectis a five-year global initiative that provides strategic technical assistance and direct service delivery to achieve HIV epidemic control and promote self-reliant management of national HIV programs by improving HIV case finding, prevention, treatment programming, and viral load suppression. Through the QUILTS Awards, EpiC will continue to empower key stakeholders, partners, and the PLHIV community in building a future where HIV services, from prevention to treatment, can be freely accessed by anyone without the fear of stigma.