SO call me Grinch.
I had planned on writing about more pleasant things today in keeping with the spirit of the season. But some stories are so disturbing, they need to be told immediately even at the risk of stealing Christmas.
A story like the alarming rise of HIV/AIDS cases in the country during the last 33 years, for example, cannot wait telling. During the last couple of weeks, we have been engrossed on the ill side effects of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. The hysterical debate on the controversial vaccine made it appear like there was no other peril to public health. In fact, HIV/AIDS is a far graver problem because unlike dengue, it is contagious, its mode of transmission associated with the response to a basic human need--or frailty.
Records of the Department of Health showed that there have been a total of 47,921 HIV/AIDS cases in the country since 1984 up to the third quarter of this year, 936 of them occurring or discovered withIn the month of September, 2017 alone. The number is expected to rise when the figures for this year’s last quarter are tallied.
And here’s the frightening thing for members of the male sex: a staggering 94 percent of those afflicted with the deadly disease are men. Not surprisingly, most of them have had male sexual partners.
The DOH records show that more than one-half (24,578) of the cases come from the 35-34 years bracket. What bothers the agency is that the next age group with the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS infection was between 15 to 24 years. They’re starting young.
Central Visayas currently has 4,402 cases, according to DOH records, averaging two to three new cases per day lately with Cebu on top of the list. In Cebu City, male-to-male sex appears to be more rampant than in such urban centers as the cities of Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan and Davao, according to the same DOH records.
And here’s the most alarming part of all: of the 47,921 cases, only 23,307 are enrolled in the Antiretroviral Treatment Program of the DOH, much lower than their target of 90%. You can just imagine the number of carriers out there, ready to spread the disease.
Based on what I’ve read about her, there is not much to like about Sandra Cam, President Duterte’s most recent appointee to the board of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). But what she did last week, had me applauding her vigorously.
Cam exposed the very lavish Christmas party that PCSO had for its employees and officials in a five-star hotel at the cost of P6 million. She boycotted the party to dramatize her protest against the extravagance.
In reply, the PCSO manager explained that actually, the budget approved for the affair was P14 million but they managed to pare down the expenses by P8 million. Is he suggesting that we should be grateful to them for not spending the entire allocation?
Wait. The PCSO has 1,500 employees more or less, which means that they spent P4,000 per person for their Christmas party. It was more than just lavish; it was outrageous. And it was people’s money!
The President has ordered an investigation of Cam’s complaint. I hope he will suspend the PCSO officials responsible for the mess while the investigation is ongoing.