This is very alarming news.
The Department of Health says one case of HIV is detected every hour in the Philippines. This year alone, 6,552 individuals were diagnosed with HIV from January to October.
“We need to strengthen our partnership with other government agencies such as the Department of Education, as well as community-based organizations in order to reach the young key population with correct information,” Health Secretary Janette Loreto Garin said in a news release.
DOH claims that HIV prevalence is now above five per cent in three Metro Manila cities (Quezon City, Parañaque and Makati), Cagayan de Oro, Puerto Princesa, Mandaue and Davao among males and transgenders having sex with males.
Five percent is the United Nations’ threshold to declare an area as having a concentrated epidemic.
In Cebu, HIV prevalence in that group is supposedly already at 14 per cent.
DOH is seeking to double the budget allocation for human immunodeficiency virus control and prevention to PHP600 million next year, according to Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Not only is the number of HIV cases in the country increasing, the profile of the patients is also becoming younger, with most of them infected through sexual contact.
Among the current number of children and adolescents with HIV, 86 percent were recorded in the past five years, according to The Philippine Star.
Last October, a four-year-old child and 22 people aged 12 to 19 years were reported to the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines, it added.
Majority of the children and adolescents with HIV were infected through sexual contact, health officials said.
“If we do not slow down our HIV epidemic, if we do not invest in preventing new HIV infections, the number of PLHIV will reach 133,000 by 2022,” said Garin.
This would cost Philhealth PHP4-billion per year for the outpatient HIV package alone and would continue to increase each year unless the country can stop new infections.
Love Yourself offers free and anonymous HIV testing in Manila (+63 2 2563472) and Mandaluyong (+63 915 3665683).
This story has been edited. The statistics claiming HIV prevalence breaching the 5% threshold refers to cases among males and transgender having sex with males.
Photo: HIV Test Philippines