Did you know that the Philippines’ HIV cases are still rising?
A lot of people thought that the enactment of the HIV/AIDS Policy Act of 2018 last January would curb the high number of HIV cases in the country. However, the Department of Health (DOH) is still recording increases every month and it should concern you.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) “targets the immune system and weaken’s people’s defense systems against infections and some types of cancer.” If not treated or detected early, HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is “the development of certain cancers, infections or other severe clinical manifestations.”
It’s also important to remember that people living HIV can achieve an undetectable viral load, meaning the virus levels are so low in the human body. This can happen when people take their prescribed medications. When the virus becomes undetectable, it cannot be transmitted to another person. The “Undetectable = Untransmittable” (U=U) campaign raises awareness on this to stop stigma and discrimination.
HIV/AIDS is a global public health issue, which has claimed 770,000 lives globally in 2018. Thanks to modern medicine called antiretroviral drugs and access to sex education, many people are starting to get treated and diagnosed early. However, not everyone has this privilege.
Today is World AIDS Day. Let’s take a closer look at the statistics and why, as mentioned, this is everyone should get involved in.
7,483 reported cases
According to the latest HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (harp) report, there had been 7,483 reported HIV/AIDS cases from January to July 2019.
35 newly-diagnosed people
This number is how many people were newly-diagnosed per day. So, imagine: 35 people getting diagnosed daily. That’s a big number.
699 (63%) MSMs
Most HIV/AIDS cases were transmitted via men having sex with other men (MSM) with 699 (63 percent) cases recorded in July 2019. It’s followed by males having sex with both males and females with 254 (23 percent) and male-female sex with 146 (13 percent).
Growth of 203 percent
UNAIDS noted in a study that the Philippines has the fastest growing HIV/AIDS rates in the world. Starting from 2010 to 2018, our country saw new infections grow by 203 percent. This is bad considering that many countries’ have already declined by at least 18 percent.
Based on HARP’s records, the youngest recorded HIV/AIDS case from January 1984 (the time when the first HIV/AIDS case in the Philippines was recorded) to July 2019 was one-month old. According to WHO, the virus can be transmitted if they are carried by HIV-positive mothers, at birth, or breastfeeding.
69,512 since January 1984
As of July 2019, this is the total number of HIV/AIDS cases counted were 69,512. It increased by over 1,000, according to HARP’s June 2019 report.
What should the government and community do to address these jarring statistics? First is to have formal sex education for all citizens. We should do away with the archaic notion that talking about sex is going to lead to premarital sex. Abstinence is not the only important thing here—engaging in safe sex is.
Second, the government must start campaigns to encourage people to get tested, and give lists of where they can go for free testing. (eg. LoveYourself) Our health sector must also make treatments more accessible for the less fortunate.
Let’s end the stigma of HIV/AIDS and do our part in raising awareness so it could be treated like any disease, as well as strengthen prevention.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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