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HIV cases pass 7,000-mark, with June infections up 63% in PHL

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A total of 178 new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases were diagnosed in the Philippines in June, an increase of 63 percent compared to the 109 reported in the same month last year.

Citing National Epidemiology Center statistics, LPG/MA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty on Saturday said the new infections brought to 1,016 the cumulative number of HIV cases reported in the first half of the year.

Ty said the National HIV and AIDS Registry, which began passive surveillance of the disease in 1984, now lists an aggregate of 7,031 cases, including 875 with advanced AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

He said 37 percent of those with full-blown AIDS, or 325 patients, have since died.

Of the new cases discovered in June, Ty said 167 were males and 11 were females. Their median age was 28 years, with those belonging to the 20 to 29 age group accounting for 60 percent of the cases.

He said 22 of the new cases, 18 were male overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and four OFW females.

Ty said 91 percent, or 6,379 of all the cases in the National HIV and AIDS Registry acquired the infection from unprotected sexual contact. The rest were infected via contaminated needle sharing among drug users, mother-to-child conveyance, tainted blood transfusion, needle prick injuries, or had no reported mode of transmission.

The Philippine National AIDS Council has warned that up to 46,000 Filipinos could be diagnosed with HIV by 2015, unless the spread of the contagious disease is effectively checked.

Dr. Edsel Salvana, a specialist in infectious disease medicine, has also warned that at the rate new cases are being spotted, the Philippine government could be spending P1 billion annually by 2015, just to acquire the anti-retroviral drugs needed to treat Filipinos with HIV.

HIV causes AIDS, which destroys the immune system, has no known cure as yet. However, the ailment can be slowed by treatments.

The LPG/MA party-list lawmaker has been batting for a comprehensive re-examination of the 1998 AIDS Prevention and Control Law.

In House Resolution 724, the lawmaker stressed the need for highly aggressive measures to suppress HIV.

He also pushed for more responsive programs to alleviate the living conditions of the growing number of Filipinos living with HIV.

Ty urged the government to allot a larger budget for AIDS prevention in the proposed 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA) that will be endorsed to Congress next month.

(Lilybeth G. Ison - PNA)

 




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