HIV/AIDS: A Growing Health Threat

Manila Bulletin, October 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

HIV/AIDS: A Growing Health Threat


Q: Do you have an idea about how widespread HIV/AIDS is in the Philippines? How can we prevent this dreadful disease from spreading?

--edna_ep2008@yahoo.com

A: Since 1984, when the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in the Philippines, up to last August, a total of 10,514 cases of the disease have already been documented by the HIV/AIDS registry of the Department of Health. The registry does not accurately reflect the actual occurrence of the disease in the country because it is a passive one that relies only on reports of accredited hospitals, clinics, laboratories and blood banks. But even in a worst-case scenario where the actual number of HIV positive persons is 10 times the number reported, the prevalence rate of HIV infection in our country can still be considered low giventhat about 34 million people worldwide are currently HIV positivewhile the Philippines has a population of close to 100 million (the world's 12th largest).

Philippine statistics however show a disturbing trend. Whereas, new HIV infections have declined by 20% worldwide since 2001, the Philippines remains as one of a handful of countries where the incidence of the infection is on the rise. In the last several years, there has in fact been a steep increase in the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines. In 2007, only 342 new cases were recorded, this rose to 528 in 2008 and 835 in 2009. This year, nine new HIV cases were reported every day from January to August, up from only six cases daily over the same eight-month period in 2011. Unless this trend is arrested, up to 46,000 Filipinos could be documented as HIV positive by 2015.

Of the 10,514 cases in the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry, about 20% are overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Of the HIV-positive OFWs, around78% are male, and 97 % acquired the virus as a result of sexual contact.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes the highly fatal acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). …

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