DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 29 January) – The number of Filipinos living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may reach over 250,000 by 2030 if no drastic measures are done, with majority of new infections likely teens and young adults aged 15 to 24 based on current trends, the Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc. (The Forum) said Sunday.
The Forum cited the November 2018 latest update of the Department of Health’s HIV and AIDS Registry, which noted that “the proportion of HIV cases in the 15-24 year age group nearly tripled from 13% in 1999-2008 to 29% in 2009-2018.”
For November 2018, there were 945 new cases (900 males and 45 females), with 71 already in the advanced stages of infection, six of whom are pregnant women, according to the registry.
Fifty-six newly-diagnosed adolescents 10-19 years old were all infected through sexual contact. Five engaged in male-female sex, 41 male-male sex, and 10 had sex with both males and females.
Mother-to-child transmission of the disease infected six newly diagnosed children who were less than 10 years old.
In the same month, there were 37 reported deaths, seven cases of which were aged 15-24.
“From January 1984 (when the first case in the Philippines was reported) to November 2018, out of the 61,152 total number of cases, 4% (2,532) were 19 years old and younger at the time of diagnosis. Out of the 2,532, there were 160 children less than 10 years old, 157 were infected through mother-to-child transmission; one through blood transfusion; and two without data,” the registry said.
HIV is transmitted when body fluids, most commonly blood, semen and pre-seminal fluid, enters another person’s body, either through sexual contact, sharing of contaminated needles, transfusion of HIV-infected blood and through an infected pregnant mother to her child.
HIV causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which destroys the human body’s natural ability to fight off all kinds of infections. The condition still does not have any known cure nor a vaccine.
The Forum president Benjamin de Leon the enactment of the HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018 (RA 11166) may stop the rapid virus transmission among children and youth who had to seek parental and guardian consent prior to getting tested.
RA 11166, which updates the AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, no longer requires minors between 15 and 18 to get parental consent prior to getting an HIV test.
“The infection can spread unchecked if we continue to deny children and youth the necessary and urgent medical attention that they can get,” he said, adding that, “it is also urgent to address their lack of information, which is one of the major reasons why infection rates in the country are rising alarmingly.”
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS said the Philippines recorded the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia Pacific from 2010 to 2016 with a 141-percent increase, which means 32 new cases reported daily. It is one of the very few countries in the world where HIV is on the rise. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)