IT'S not your work but how you conduct your life that will put you at risk for Human Immuno Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids), a health official said, after call center agents have been put on the spot following a study on population with high risk behaviors.

In fact, call center agents only ranked second among the short list with injection drug users as the number one.

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Department of Health (DOH) assistant secretary Dr. Paulyn-Jean Ubial clarified Friday that the study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and Health department also had respondents who are taxi drivers, commercial sex workers, injection drug users, and call center agents.

Of the respondents, injection drug users have the highest positivity rate, followed by the call center group.

"The study was done because we cannot survey the entire population. Instead, high-risk groups, groups [that] show high-risk behaviors, were identified and a sample of them were tested," Ubial said in an interview after Kapihan sa PIA media forum.

"It's not to say that call center agents are the only ones at risk. People who do not practice safe sex are also at risk. It only raised alarm perhaps because it came as a surprise," Ubial said.

Ubial said high-risk behaviors include not using condoms, having multiple sexual partners or being unfaithful. "Only five percent of the general population practice sexual activities with condoms, so mababa pa rin."

"From an average of 10 to 20 cases per month in the past 10 years, it doubled to about 40 to 50 cases per month in the last two years. Kung in 2006, our total HIV cases (nationwide) was less than 6,000, now more than 20,000 na in the last two years," Ubial said.

However, Ubial said the mortality rate from HIV cases is still minimal.

"Mortality is still very low. We're looking into a future where HIV patients can actually live a normal life," Ubial said.

"There are already cases of patients who are currently living up to 20 years since they acquired the disease. As long as they get the proper attention and medication, they will have longer lifespan," said Ubial, adding that the government is offering free medication to HIV patients.

Dr. Eric Tayag, chief of the National Epidemiology Center, said last February 3 that behavioral choices, not occupations, are what make a person vulnerable to the disease.

“It’s not who you are, but it’s what you do. The DOH is not saying that call center agents are a high-risk group for HIV, but that they have high-risk behaviors that should be looked into,” Tayag said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita also said the matter should be given proper attention by concerned government agencies since business process outsourcing has contributed a lot to the economic progress of the country.