MANILA, Philippines - From an average of nine new cases of HIV/AIDS a day in 2012, the Department of Health (DOH) registered 12 new cases daily in January this year.
Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said these 12 new cases daily are equivalent to 380 new cases reported to the DOH’s Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry in January 2013. Of these, 25 were already AIDS at the time of reporting.
“(This is) the most number of new cases per month since 1984 (when the registry started). The cumulative total is now at 12,082,” Tayag said.
The registry showed the 380 cases were 79 percent higher compared to the 212 cases recorded in January 2012. Eighty two percent of the cases involved males having sex with other males (MSM).
Tayag said they received information that MSM contact usually occurs at home. “They are not using protection. It’s bareback, no condom,” he described.
And despite the risk, those engaging in MSM are not keen on undergoing HIV testing because of the stigma and discrimination still associated with the disease.
He noted some MSM complain of doctors and nurses “who do not know how to handle them. ”
Some MSM also complain about the fees for HIV testing in some healthcare facilities and the one-month waiting period for the release of confirmatory test results which they deem too long.
The registry showed that sexual contact has accounted for 374 cases while the mode of transmission for four other cases was needle sharing among injecting drug users. Of the 380 cases, 25 were females.
Tayag said 61 percent of the new cases were aged 20 to 29 years old.
“These are the ages when you are productive and then you will be infected for life. Although there are drugs, there could still be complications in months or years to come,” he said.
Tayag urged those who are “aggressive and adventurous” but do not know the risks to slow down and come to DOH for information.
“If you cannot abstain (from sex), if you cannot maintain a marital relationship or you cannot be mutually faithful, you can just use condom to protect your life,” Tayag said.
The registry showed the bulk of new cases came from Metro Manila at 48 percent; Calabarzon (15 percent); Central Luzon (nine percent); Davao (eight percent) and Central Visayas (six percent).
Thirty-seven of the 380 cases were overseas Filipino workers. Ninety seven percent got infected through sexual contact while one contracted the virus through needle sharing.
The report showed that since 1984, the DOH monitored 12,082 HIV cases and 1,194 of these have progressed into AIDS. The death toll is 353.
A total of 2,915 of these cases belonged to the 15 to 24 age groups while 62 cases were children below 15 years old. Males accounted for 10,431 of the cases.
Of the 12,082 HIV positive cases reported from 1984 to 2013, 93 percent (11,181) were infected through sexual contact and four percent (444) through needle sharing among injecting drug users.
Less than one percent of the cases were through mother-to-child transmission (59); blood transfusion (20) and needle prick injury (three).