48 Filipinos test positive for HIV; ‘paid sex’ blamed

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The Department of Health (DoH) on Wednesday said 48 people acquired human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after engaging in transactional or paid sex.

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“People who engage in transactional sex are those who report that they pay for sex, regularly accept payment for sex, or do both,” according to the department’s April 2017 HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines Report.

The report stated that 23 of the 48 HIV-positive cases were males who paid for sex. Seventeen individuals, 16 of them males, acquired HIV after accepting payment for sex. Eight more males acquired HIV after getting paid for sex and paying for sex.

On top of these cases, six pregnant women tested positive for HIV in April – three in Central Visayas and one each in Metro Manila, the Cordillera Administrative Region and Central Luzon.

DoH spokesman Eric Tayag said the pregnant women were being given anti-retroviral therapy to prevent their babies from acquiring HIV.

Tayag said that if a baby is born with HIV, the infant’s immune system could become weak, which might affect the early years of survival. Vaccines administered on babies will not work if they are positive for HIV.

Tayag said the DoH was looking at the causes of HIV infection among pregnant women. Possible reasons include unprotected sex and partners engaging in multiple sexual relationships.

“Remember also that HIV can be transmitted through addiction to drugs and excessive drinking wherein an individual may lose sense of judgment and control and thus, engage in an unprotected sex with a possible carrier of HIV which may cause the transmission,” he explained.

He urged people at risk of HIV to go to testing centers.

The DoH previously reported 629 new cases of HIV in April, out of which 84 progressed to acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS. Seventeen AIDS-related deaths were recorded in the same month.

New HIV cases went down by 18.5 percent in April 2017 from 772 cases in the same month last year.

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