MANILA, Philippines – The latest statistic reveals that one Filipino contracts HIV every one hour and 25 minutes as HIV cases rapidly increase across the country.
“With the attributing “fast and furious” prevalence of homosexual intercourse and intravenous drug use, there were 449 new cases reported in July alone,” said Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) Executive Director Ferchito Avelino.
HIV cases in the Philippines have increased by 523 percent between 2008 and 2013 especially in at-risk areas such as Manila, Angeles City, and Cebu.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that from one case in every three days in 2000, HIV cases have increased to one case a day in 2007, four cases a day in 2010, seven cases a day in 2011 and nine cases a day in 2012, and a new HIV case every one and a half hour in 2013.
Health authorities said there were 431 new cases of HIV in June, bringing the number of new cases since January 2013 from 2,323 to 14,025.
It said that the reported common type of HIV cases transmission in the Philippines was sexual contact and males having sex with the same gender.
“Males having sex with other males were the predominant type of sexual transmission through heterosexual contact, followed by homosexual contact, then bisexual contact,” the DOH said.
It added that other common mode of transmission are through needle sharing among injecting drug users and mother-to-child transmission.
The DOH said that HIV leads to AIDS. The latter is a condition where the virus attacks and damages the immune system of the body, eventually causing death.
The health agency also warned that HIV-AIDS cases would balloon to 45,000 in 2015 because of continued unsafe sex practices of Filipinos.
Avelino called for the government to increase the assistance in combating the rise of HIV cases in the country.
“We need to prioritize and to scale up response in a more coordinated manner. What’s important is our government, whether national or local, should lead in the response and be able to accept the fact that we need to do something and we have to do it fast,” Avelino said.
The rapid increased of HIV cases also emphasized the need for local chief executives and local city and town councils nationwide to make policy interventions by correcting misconceptions about HIV-AIDS, promoting self-risk assessment, providing access to available STD-HIV services and to prioritize the establishments of more permanent local AIDS councils, facilities for victims and health personnel.
Dayanara L. Brazil
ABCom, Leyte Normal University