25% hike in new HIV cases in PH notedBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The rate of people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), has increased by more than 25 percent in the Philippines in the last decade, according to the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The agency said the Philippines was one of the nine countries where the rate of HIV infection has increased, even as 25 low and middle income countries—many of them in Africa—were able to slash their HIV infection rates by more than 50 percent.
Worse, UNAIDS also noted that more than half of Filipino men who have sex with other men (MSM)—the sector driving the increase of HIV infection in the country—do not use condoms.
“In the Philippines, the rate of new HIV infections increased by more than 25 percent between 2001 and 2011,” the agency said.
The other countries that registered increases included Bangladesh, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Sri Lanka, it added.
UNAIDS noted that the less than one-fourth of Filipino MSMs are covered by HIV prevention programs meant to stop the spread of infections.
This is much lower when compared to the percentage for Filipino sex workers (50 to 74 percent) who are covered by HIV prevention programs.
The agency also noted that less than one-fourth of Filipino MSMs also have themselves tested for HIV infection.
The increase in HIV infections in the Philippines was in stark contrast to the situation in other low- and middle-income countries.