HIV cases rise; funds to prevent spread disease sought-A A +A
Sunday, September 1, 2013
FOR the fifth time within seven months, the record-high for new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the country has been reset.
If left unattended, HIV patients will develop acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids), which exposes the body to different diseases because of a weak immune system. About 814 Filipinos have died due to complications from Aids.
Based on the latest Philippine HIV and Aids Registry Report of the Department of Health (DOH), July saw 449 new HIV cases reported, 18 cases higher than the previous record of 431 set in June.
“DOH reports the highest monthly number since 1984 in July 2013,” said Tayag in his Twitter account (@erictayagSays).
Last January, the record high was set at 380, only to be broken in April with 388 cases.
By May, the record was reset to 415, which was then broken in June by the 431 new cases.
Compared to last year during the same month, the July 2013 cases is 62 percent higher than the 278 cases in July 2012.
Of the new cases, 41 have progressed into full-blown Aids cases, said the report.
On the other hand, 14 people with HIV died last July.
The report comes out on the heels of the statement of the Philippine National Aids Council (PNAC) that the spread of HIV cases in the country is already “fast and furious."
Majority or 91.7 percent (412) of the new cases were acquired through sexual transmission, primarily from the men-having-sex-with-men (MSM) population, which accounted for 346 cases or 84 percent.
Homosexual contact accounted for 201 cases (49 percent) followed by bisexual contact with 145 cases (35 percent); and 66 cases (16 percent) from heterosexual contact.
Thirty-six new cases were also acquired from injecting drug use while a mother-to-child transmission was also reported last month.
A bulk of the new HIV cases was sourced from the National Capital Region (NCR), which accounted for 6,737 of the new cases (51 percent).
At far second to fifth places are Calabarzon (Region 4-A) with 1,704 (13 percent); Central Visayas (Region 7) with 1,172 (9 percent); Central Luzon (Region 3) with 1,114 (8 percent); and Davao Region (Region 11) with 795 (6 percent).
Among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), 51 new cases have been reported with all coming from sexual transmission.
Homosexual contact was on top with 19 cases (37 percent) while heterosexual and bisexual contact each tallied 16 cases (31 percent).
For this year, a total of 2,772 HIV cases have been reported in the country with 172 already turning into full-blown Aids cases while 105 have already died.
Since 1984, 14,474 new HIV cases have already been recorded by DOH with 1,341 developing into Aids cases.
A non-government organization, focused on preventing the spread of HIV, offers free HIV testing under the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
Love Yourself Project, through its director for communication Lawrence Villegas, said in a text message, "The continued rise of new HIV cases detected shows that our efforts to drive more of the most-at-risk populations (MARPs) to go for HIV testing is working."
"For years, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. Now, we're starting to see the real extent of the epidemic. This validates the need for more widespread interventions, and allows us to address the problem more appropriately with the right amount of resources," Villegas said.
Meanwhile, city and municipal mayors are encouraged by a worker’s group on Sunday to help prevent the spread of HIV in the country by providing funds, crafting ordinances and providing facilities solely for infected constituents.
Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), made the call in light of what he had observed as “growing trend” of reported HIV cases among men having sex with men (MSM).
MSM population accounted for 346 or 84 percent of the 449 new HIV cases tallied in July, the highest monthly number since DOH started recording infections in 1984.
“By institutionalizing the HIV/Aids policy intervention in cities and municipalities, the problem is insulated from partisan politics and transforms the approach become more decisive. This is how we think the chronic and growing problem of HIV/Aids should be addressed,” said Seno.
Quoting a rapid assessment study designed for local chief executives released recently by the Philippine National Aids Council (PNAC), Seno said there should be local policy interventions correcting misconceptions about HIV/Aids, promote self-risk assessment and provide access to available HIV treatment services.
The study also urged local governments to consider establishing more permanent local Aids council, facilities for victims and hire health personnel.
Seno said access to condoms offers nothing but a “quick and knee jerk” remedy, a position opposed by Dangal, a national network of 23 gay, bisexual and transgender groups.
“It is neither knee jerk nor temporary. Condom use promotion is evidence-based, and in any epidemic, everyone should stick to evidence and prevent the spread of falsehoods, misconceptions and misinformation,” said Dangal president Jonas Bagas in a text message.
The TUCP is a member of the PNAC and co-chair of its committee on planning, partnership and networking.
The other members of the PNAC are DOH, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other non-government organizations (NGOs). (Virgil Lopez/HDT/Sunnex)