The Department of Health (DOH) recorded 1,347 new HIV cases in September. Ninety-six percent or 1,293 of the new cases were males. Fifty-four cases or four percent were females, seven of whom were reported to be pregnant at the time of diagnosis. The pregnant HIV-positive women were between 15 to 38 years old.
The age of the newly reported cases ranged from two to 71: three or less than one percent were younger than 15 years old; 418 or 31 percent were 15 to 24; 667 (50 percent) were 25 to 34; 229 (17 percent) were 35 to 49 and 30 (two percent) were 50 and above.
Sexual contact remained the predominant mode of transmission for 1,323 individuals or 98 percent. Transmission through sharing of infected needles accounted for five cases or less than one percent.
More than 55 percent or 746 of the total cases reported were from Metro Manila and the surrounding regions of Calabarzon and Central Luzon.
The DOH said that for September, there were 1,058 people with HIV who were enrolled in treatment or anti-retroviral therapy.
Among them, three cases (less than one percent) were younger than 15 years old; 309 (29 percent) were 15 to 24; 543 (51 percent) were 25 to 34; 178 (17 percent) were 35 to 49 and 25 (two percent) were 50 and above.
The statistics show that 31% of new cases were between the ages of 15 to 24 which is a very alarming number considering that this age group will most likely be the future workforce for our country. The continuous rise in new infections also points to how there is a need for increased awareness and education to prevent or at least slow down this epidemic from spreading.
In the past six years, HIV and AIDS have doubled. This is a major issue that needs to be addressed.
There are many different causes of the doubling of HIV and AIDS. One of the biggest reasons for this is that people are not getting tested as much as they should be.
The next largest reason for the increase in HIV and AIDS is that people are not using protection when they have sex with someone who might have HIV or AIDS.
Another reason for the increase in HIV and AIDS is because some people don’t know how to protect themselves from getting it.
Some other reasons include drug use and poverty, which can lead to a higher chance of contracting this disease.
AIDS is a disease that has been around for a long time. It is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
The virus was first identified in the early 1980s and then it was discovered how it is passed from one person to another. HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, blood contact or from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
Infected people who are not taking medication will progress to AIDS which can lead to death.
AIDS epidemic, HIV/AIDS, prevention, treatment
There are a lot of things that we can do to stop the AIDS epidemic crisis. Getting tested is one of the first steps. We need to be aware of our sexual health and have access to treatment and prevention methods. If we know that we are HIV positive, then it is important for us to take medication as prescribed by our doctor. Engage in support groups or organizations that continuously pushing for more awareness and care.
What the Government is doing?
The Philippines has retooled its program to expand HIV services for males who have sex with males and transgender women and has opened clinics that cater specifically to their needs in urban areas, where the risk of HIV is higher. The strategy is to focus on 117 cities where 80% of the new infections have been reported and to open in each such city at least one HIV clinic which has convenient evening hours for working people, and is a one-stop shop that provides prevention, counseling, laboratory work-up, and treatment services. These are the Sundown clinics. The government has also taken measures towards enabling rapid HIV screening and delivery of test results.
The Department of Health is providing antiretroviral (ARV) medicine for free to anyone who tests positive for HIV, as well as other out-patient services to a maximum of PHP 30,000 ($US 600) a year per person. Between 2013 and 2015, the government increased funding for the HIV program, and now shoulders 70% of all financing for its response.
Local governments have also stepped-up their efforts by providing resources and implementing innovative HIV prevention services appropriate for their locales. For example, Quezon City has opened three Sundown clinics which provide rapid HIV testing and counseling for MSM and TGW, as well as HIV treatment in a non-stigmatizing environment. The city has increased its funding for such initiatives since 2012, and is leading a push to encourage other local government units to invest more.
These are important steps but admittedly still lacks attention due to absence of RH Bill as we are not addressing the issue aggressively based on facts or data that we are now telling everyone for more than 20 years. We are still not equipping the younger population to deal appropriately with their sexuality, their behaviors and activities.
For 15 years, Project Headshot Clinic has been conducting photoshoots for various advocacies and our most anticipated shoot has always been the annual World AIDS Day campaign and this year’s DEFEND series is the 15th of its kind. Inspired by the concept of warriors, Project Headshot Clinic together with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, envisioned to create a new world in which advocates are likened to heroes and fighters through photographs. Just as how the Katipuneros fought for our freedom in the past, we must fight against stigma and misinformation. As warriors and soldiers with the commitment to uphold our Filipino value of Bayanihan, let us support
each other and aim for an AIDS-free world together! – Niccolo Cosme (Founder / Creative Director, Project Headshot Clinic (HSC))