DOH rejects call to declare HIV emergency

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


THE Department of Health (DOH) dismissed on Tuesday the call of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) for a national emergency to be declared over the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the country.

In an interview, DOH spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said TUCP’s call could be premature.

“We acknowledge naman yung problema ng HIV/Aids na talagang mataas but then before we get into a national emergency, there might be some other things we can do,” said Lee Suy.

“We're not totally saying na it would fit into the national emergency, but we have to look into the issue first because maraming consequences,” he said.

According to the DOH official, the government has not been remiss of its responsibilities in combating the HIV spread.

The DOH has been strongly pushing for its ABC program versus HIV/Aids, which stands for Abstinence, Be faithful, and Condom use. It is also considering the idea of conducting mandatory HIV testing among high-risk groups.

Among the high-risk groups identified by the DOH are female sex workers (FSWs), males having sex with males (MSMs), injecting drug users (IDUs), and overseas foreign workers (OFWs).

In the 2014 Global Aids Response Progress Report to be submitted by Philippine Government to the United Nations, the TUCP said the country has failed this early to meet the 2015 target of reducing HIV spread.

Based on the report prepared by DOH’s National Epidemiology Center (NEC) about HIV monitoring and survey they conducted on key affected populations, it was learned that out of the 1,115 sex workers tested within the first four months of 2014 alone, 20 or 1.8 percent of them were found to have HIV infection, compared to only 26 or .275 percent out of 9,797 tested for the whole year in 2012.

The report also shows that out of 4,804 men having sex with men, 160 or 3.3 percent of them are found to have been infected within the first quarter of the year, compared to only 90 or 1.68 percent with HIV out of 5,353 for the whole year in 2012.

Among the people who inject drugs, meanwhile, 401 or 46.1 percent out of 869 were infected with HIV during the first quarter of the year while only 13.56 percent or 174 of them have HIV out of 1,283 tested two years ago.

From 1984 to March 2014, there were 17,948 HIV/Aids cases as recorded by the NEC.

The Philippines is one of the seven countries in the world with increasing incidence of HIV cases. The other countries are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. (HDT/Sunnex)

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