THE Department of Health (DOH) expressed alarm at the rising number of cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), reporting that 841 new cases were recorded in June, a 9 percent increase over the 772 cases reported in June 2015, and the highest number of new infections recorded in one month since 1984, when the first case of AIDS in the Philippines was confirmed.
The DOH pointed out that this was equivalent to 26 new cases of HIV infection per day, compared with an average of 17 per day in 2014, and just one per day in 2008. The previous highest monthly number of new HIV infections was recorded in January this year, when 801 people were reported to have contracted the virus.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a fatal disease most often spread through sexual activity or intravenous drug use.
The DOH reported that 88 percent of the newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection showed no symptoms of AIDS. An overwhelming majority of the new cases, 95 percent or 798 were male, with 43 females being diagnosed with HIV. Most of the new cases, 335 or 40 percent were from the National Capital Region, while 126 new cases, 15 percent of the total, were recorded in Region 4A, and 121 new cases or 14 percent recorded in Region 7.
Among age groups, more than half of the new HIV cases, a total of 456, were reported among people aged 24 to 34, while 226 or 27 percent were among the 15-24 year old age group.
The June total of new diagnoses brings the total number of new cases for the first six months of the year to 4,643. There were 7,829 new cases of HIV infection reported for all of 2015, according to DOH statistics.
The DOH reported that 92 percent, or 777 of the HIV cases were attributed to sexual contact, with 88 percent of those involving sex between males or sex with both males and females. Sixty cases were reported to have been caused by needle sharing among intravenous drug users, and four cases were mother-to-child transmission.
In addition, 104 new cases of AIDS were reported during the month; a DOH spokesperson clarified that nearly all of these had been previously diagnosed and reported to the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP), the database of HIV and AIDS patients, and people undergoing anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and were not included in the total of new HIV cases. The June figure brings the total number of new AIDS cases to 622 for the January-June period, sharply higher than in 2015, when there were 503 new AIDS cases reported for the entire year.