MANILA – The trend of rising number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the country compared to last year continued in February 2016, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Based on the DOH-HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines data, there were 751 new HIV cases recorded last February.
“This was 16 percent higher compared to the same period last year, which is at 646,” the DOH report said.
HIV could lead to the fatal Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which the body’s immune system is attacked and totally damaged by the virus.
Of the 751 new HIV cases, a total of 116 had developed into full-blown AIDS cases.
Fifty-five people with HIV/AIDS died in February, the report added.
This means that in the first two months of 2016, there were 1,555 HIV cases reported to the DOH, including 210 AIDS cases and 119 deaths.
Since 1984, there have been 31,911 HIV cases recorded in the country, including 2,762 AIDS cases and 1,649 deaths.
Of the 751 new cases in February, a total of 711 cases (95%) were acquired through sexual transmission, mostly from the men-having-sex-with-men (MSM) population, which accounted for 619 cases or 87 percent.
Homosexual contact was responsible for 358 cases; followed by bisexual contact with 261 cases; and heterosexual contact with 92 cases.
Injecting drug use (IDU) accounted for the transmission of 38 new cases; while there were two cases of mother-to-child transmission.
The regions with the highest number of reported cases for February 2016 were Metro Manila with 295 cases (39 percent); Region IV-A with 124 (17 percent); Region VII with 100 (13 percent); Region III with 65 (9 percent); and Region XI with 58 (8 percent).
A total of 63 new cases among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), meanwhile, have been reported, with all coming from sexual transmission.
A total of 87 percent of those who acquired HIV through sexual contact were males who had sex with males (MSMs).
In the early years (1984-1990), 62 percent or 133 of 216 cases involved females.
Beginning in 1991, more males were reported to be infected with HIV in the Philippines.
From 2011 to 2016, males comprised 95 percent (24,728) of the reported 25,896 cases.
The age group with the highest proportion of cases has become younger.
It was 35-49 years from 2001 to 2005; 25-34 years in 2006-2010; and 20-29 years from 2011 to 2016.
Notably, the proportion of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in the 15-24 age group increased from 25 percent in 2006-2010 to 28 percent in 2011-2016.
The DOH earlier said that the increase in the recorded HIV cases was expected as a result of the agency’s continuous campaign to reduce the stigma of those with HIV and to ensure that they are aware that there are social hygiene clinics that they can visit and be tested for free so that they in return can help also in the prevention of spread of HIV in the country by practicing safe sex and receiving the anti-retroviral assistance of DOH and its partners.
Health Secretary Janette Garin has warned that if the government and other stakeholders would not invest in preventing new HIV infections in the country, the figures would reach 133,000 by 2022, which would cost the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) Php4 billion a year for the outpatient HIV package alone.