The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) situation continues to be a serious public health problem in the Philippines as health officials reported 912 new HIV cases in March 2018.
In fact, with a 140% increase in estimated annual new HIV infections from 2010 to 2016, UNAIDS said that the “the Philippines has become the country with the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific, and has become one of eight countries that account for more than 85% of new infections in the region.”
From January 1984 to March 2018, the number of individuals diagnosed with HIV is 53,192. Among those diagnosed from January 2001 to December 2005, the predominant age group was 35-49 years old. However, starting from January 2006 to March 2018, the trend shifted to the 25-34 age group. The proportion of HIV positive cases in the 15-24 age group increased from 25% in 2006-2010 to 29% in 2011-2018.
Of the 912 cases reported in March, ninety-four percent (858) of the newly diagnosed cases were male. More than half (52%, 471) were 25-34 years old while 31% (283) were 15-24 years old at the time of testing. Sexual contact remains the most predominant mode of transmission (99%, 899). Among this, 86% (774) were among males who have sex with males (MSM).
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“Given the current HIV situation in the Philippines, we have to step up our efforts to reduce the number of new HIV cases in the country,” WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr Gundo Weiler said. “We hope that people take this opportunity not only to remember the lives lost to HIV but to also work towards the elimination of HIV stigma in the Philippines. It is time to talk to your loved ones about HIV screening because treatment is readily available.”
“HIV is no longer a death sentence these days. We should end the stigma and fear attached to disease. HIV/AIDS can be prevented with correct information and deaths can be averted with treatment,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stated.
Currently, Philippines DOH has certified 85 HIV treatment hubs apart from social hygiene clinics located in strategic places across the country where PLHIVs can avail of services such as screening and basic laboratory testing, treatment and management of HIV-related illnesses and counseling.
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