THE total number of Filipinos infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS, could reach more than 142,000 in five years, the Department of Health warned on Friday.
If left unchecked, HIV cases could further balloon to 313,000 by 2030, the department said as the world marked World AIDS Day.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAids) earlier revealed a 140-percent increase in the number of new infections in the Philippines over the past six years, from roughly 4,300 cases in 2010 to about 10,500 in 2016.
The government has recorded a total of 46,985 cases between January 1984 and August 2017.
From January to August 2017, 84 percent of newly reported cases involved men who had sexual intercourse with men, including transgenders.
Two in three estimated new HIV infections came from males and transgenders aged 15 to 24.
“The total number of (people who tested positive with HIV) is estimated to reach 142,000 by 2022, and 313,000 by 2030,” the Health department said.
Malacañang called on Filipinos to unite in fighting HIV.
“We must work as one to increase the capacity of the country for early warning, risk reduction, and management of national and global health risks, including HIV/AIDS,” he added.
Roque, among the principal authors of Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act when he was still a congressman, stressed the need to end the HIV epidemic in the country.
“This is especially important given that the Philippines was recently reported as registering the highest growth rate for HIV infections in the Asia-Pacific,” he said.
Roque said the passage of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act would serve to strengthen the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Act given that the UHC covers preventive health services.
It provides for policies and programs to prevent the spread of HIV and deliver treatment, care and support services to Filipinos living with HIV in accordance with evidence-based strategies and approaches that follow the principles of human rights, gender equality, and meaningful participation of communities, he explained.
“On a larger scale, government needs to address not just the health issues themselves but also the social determinants of health that contribute significantly to the persistence of these communicable diseases,” Roque said.
with KENNETH HERNANDEZ