SCALE Initiative Gains Momentum: Empowering Key Population-led Organization to Drive Progress in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

November 30, 2023


In commemoration of the 2023 World AIDS Day, nations across the globe unite under the theme "Let Communities Lead," emphasizing the critical role of local initiatives in the collective fight against HIV/AIDS. The Philippines stands with other countries in realizing the pivotal role of grassroots initiatives in the fight against HIV/AIDS, through its SCALE Initiative projects. 

The HIV situation in the Philippines remains among the country's pressing public health threats. Based on the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) published by the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH-EB) in May 2023, the number of HIV-positive reported cases in the country has reached a total of 116,504 since January 1984. Sexual contact remains the largest mode of transmission (88% for January-May 2023).1 

The SCALE Initiative acknowledges the urgency of addressing these challenges and actively contributes to the national response. In the Philippines, this commitment is exemplified through three (3) SCALE projects: 


  1. Bida ang Barangay: Strengthening the capacity of Barangay officials in addressing HIV and SOGIESC-related discrimination  

Led by the TLF Share (Sexuality, Health, and Rights Educators) Collective, this project equips barangay officials with practical knowledge, tools, and understanding to address discrimination linked to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) and health status. Aligned with the HIV Policy Act of 2018, the initiative provides realistic training and awareness programs, empowering duty bearers in their practical role against discrimination. 


  1. Project CLASH – Capacitating youth leaders for the advancement of sexual health through digital interventions 

Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY)’s "Project CLASH" addresses the real challenges faced by young men who have sex with men and transgender individuals. Utilizing its grant, PANTAY will deliver practical knowledge on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV prevention. Digital interventions will be implemented towards achievable empowerment of youth leaders in the pursuit of sexual health. 


  1. Effecting anti-stigma and discrimination policy execution and enforcement for the protection of key populations in Cebu 

Cebu United Rainbow LGBT Sector (CURLS), through its project, will address the very real issues of stigma and discrimination faced by the LGBTIQ+ community. With a focus on Cebu, CURLS will implement and enforce anti-stigma and discrimination protection ordinances. This initiative is committed to facilitating realistic mechanisms for community access to justice, aligning with global goals while working within local contexts. 


 In addition to these projects, UNDP Philippines also led a national HIV dialogue last October 26, 2023, titled 'Enabling Access.' This event brought together around 50 advocates, representing international agencies, Philippine national government agencies, and civil society organizations. Part of the SCALE Initiative, 'Enabling Access' aimed to collaboratively address challenges and develop strategies for equitable access to HIV services and interventions. Participants identified solutions and mechanisms to scale up the implementation of the 7th AIDS Medium-Term Plan (2023-2028) and enhance the HIV response and advocacy in the country. 

As the SCALE Initiative reaches its one-year mark, the Philippines, through these projects and collaborative events, stands along with other nations in dismantling barriers and empowering key populations, contributing significantly to the global fight against HIV/AIDS. 


About the SCALE Initiative 

The SCALE Initiative underscores that empowering key population-led community organizations is not only essential but a driving force in achieving the 10-10-10 targets for HIV/AIDS. By actively involving these communities, the initiative ensures that the progress made is meaningful, sustainable, and aligned with the unique challenges faced by key populations. 

Contact Information: Andyleen C. Feje, HIV Response Analyst,