Although the number of new HIV infections has dropped by 17% globally since 2001, the number of new cases in the Philippines has increased by 334%.
The 2009 Integrated HIV Behavioral and Serological Surveillance (IHBSS) report revealed that the number of Filipinos afflicted with HIV/AIDS especially among high risk populations is steadily growing. The report disclosed that the overall prevalence of cases in the most at risk populations (MARPs) is 530 per 100,000 population. It also revealed the following figures: men having sex with men – 1,050/100,000; freelance female sex workers – 540/100,000; registered female sex workers – 230/100,000; and injecting drug users – 210/100,000.
These figures are far high compared to the numbers that the 2007 IHBSS has yielded.
The 2007 figures were: overall prevalence in MARPs– 99 per 100,000 population; men having sex with men – 280/100,000; freelance female sex workers – 44/100,000; registered female sex workers – 68/100,000; and injecting drug users – 130/100,000.
Although HIV and AIDS do not discriminate and anyone can get infected including unborn babies, there are groups that are more at risk than others because of behaviors that include unprotected vaginal and anal sex, multiple sex partners and re-use of needles and syringes while injecting drugs.
“The threat is real. An individual is like a walking time bomb that may explode and spread the virus to others, cause deaths especially if he/she doesn’t know his/her HIV status while engaging in high risk behaviors.” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the DOH is determined to boost its information drive and strengthen its prevention program and services against HIV/AIDS. “But the efforts of DOH alone are not enough. The DOH will need the help of other sectors, other agencies of government, the LGUs, civic society and individuals and communities. All of us have a responsibility and role in stopping this disease,” Duque said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine HIV/AIDS Registry for October 2009 reported that 80 new HIV cases have been confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory. This was a 36% increase compared to the same period last year (59 in 2008). This brought the total of cases for 2009 to 626. Four (4) of these new cases were reported as AIDS. There was no death reported for the month of October.
The cumulative number of HIV cases from 1984 to October 2009 is 4,218, of which 828 have become AIDS. Of the 828 cases, 314 have already died. The most common mode of transmission was sexual contact (3,798 out of 4,218), while the least common was through mother-to-child transmission (49/4,218).
Get the facts. Know if you are at risk, how HIV is spread, and take action to protect yourself.
• Abstinence, followed by mutual monogamy with an uninfected partner, is the most effective way to protect yourself.
• For sexually active individuals, correct and consistent condom use can significantly decrease risk.