HIV Cases Rising among MSM, Patients Getting Younger

Article excerpt

Davao City, Philippines (15 October) -- Advocacy groups have raised alarm on the increasing cases of HIV positive in the country, along with the climbing number of "Men who have sex with Men" (MSM) and transgenders (TG) as the current most-at-risk-population.

The groups also disclosed that patients of the human immunodeficiency

virus were getting younger scoring at the age of 17 to 24 years old based from the recent reported cases.

According to Dr. Ferchito Avelino, authorized HIV diagnostics laboratories in the country confirmed some 5,864 HIV positive cases as of July this year, since the first case came out in 1984.

Avelino cited Davao Region to rank second, next to the National Capital Region as to the number of HIV positive cases, noting that 170 cases which represent 3.2 percent of the total cases nationwide have been reported in Region 11.

He informed that 85% of the region's cases or 144 HIV positive cases were found to be in Davao City.

"Malaki ang contribution ng Davao City sa bilang ng cases ng Davao Region," said Avelino who is executive director of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), a government entity that functions as an advisory, planning and policy-making body for the comprehensive and integrated HIV/AIDS prevention and control program in the country.

Avelino stated "this is a big challenge to the government from the regional down to barangay level on how to address this problem."

According to Jeff Fuentes, Davao City Health Office has reported 18 deaths from the 70 cases it has recorded since 1993.

Fuentes, CHO population program officer, said that CHO has recorded four cases in 2007, while 14 in 2008.

This year, he noted, there were 17 persons infected with HIV as reported from January to July, which was same as the number of cases recorded the whole year of 2009.

"The first semester of this year already covered the one year data of 2009. Cases have doubled. That's how alarming it is." stressed Fuentes.

According to him, all cases came from the sector of MSM/TG who had multiple sex partners and had inconsistent condom use. He added that all had high educational attainment.

He also said that 47% of the total HIV infected persons in the city belonged to the age bracket of 25-29 years old, while 35% came from the age bracket of 20-24.

But the main age, Fuentes stressed, were getting younger at the age of 17-24 based from the recent HIV surveillance which was accounted for January to July 2010 report.

Dr. Philip Castro of the United Nations Development Programme, revealed that the Philippines is one of countries in Asia with a rapid increase of HIV cases among MSM.

Castro informed that UNDP-Bangkok has been supporting regional initiatives in Asian countries, citing for instance the development of comprehensive packages to address the epidemic among MSM/TG. …