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Alarming increase in HIV cases

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The increase in Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the Philippines is alarming and requires a more focused approach to reverse it. Data from January-September 2011 period revealed an average of six new HIV infections  daily was reported, significantly higher compared to one new case every two days 10 years ago.

The increase in the new HIV infection was largely due to the spread of the virus among males who have unprotected sex with other males and also among injecting drug users who share contaminated needles.

The HIV situation, while alarming, is concentrated among key populations at higher risk and not the public at large. This will provide the government with greater opportunity to halt and reverse the trend in the next few years, but halting and reversing the current trend will require a more focused, multi-sectoral approach and an efficient implementation of prevention and control programs.

But what is alarming is the cancellation of the Round 11 of  The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria funding and investments worldwide hence, there is a need for a more rational resource allocation of money intended to combat HIV/Aids in the country.

The September 2011 Philippine Department of Health HIV and AIDS Registry showed that there were 253 new HIV cases for the month of reporting, the highest number of new HIV infections ever reported. The report also showed  that  of the  new 253  HIV cases, the age group 20-29 years old reported the most number of cases, or 57 percent.  Ninety-five  percent were males belonging to the age group 16-67 years old; 83 percent were males who have sex with other males. Fiftty-three percent or  135 cases were from the National Capital Region.

The same report said 226 cases revealed sexual contact as the mode of transmission while 27 cases said they shared needles with injecting drug users. Five of the 253 new HIV cases have progressed into AIDS cases, all of them males within the age group of 18-50 years old. Two of the five AIDS cases have died in September, one was aged 40 and the other 49.

Sixteen of the new 253 HIV cases were overseas Filipino workers, 11 males and five females belonging to the age group 24-59 years old. All cases said they acquired HIV through sexual contact, 10 via heterosexual sex, one via homosexual sex, and five via bisexual sex.

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