MANILA, Aug. 2 — Following a report that showed the Philippines has the highest incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the Asia-Pacific region, a senator on Wednesday urged the government to declare a national emergency over its spread.
“The government must focus its time and resources on this urgent, life and death matter. We cannot afford to lose our young people to this epidemic,” Senator Risa Hontiveros, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said in a statement.
At the same time, Hontiveros said the government must also ensure that people with HIV “live with dignity and without fear of stigma and discrimination.”
“Education on sexuality and safe sex is being neglected, and unfortunately, that takes a toll on the health of our young people. The majority of new cases are from the age bracket 15-24 years old,” she added.
She also called for an evidence-based, human rights-informed, and gender-transformative HIV prevention and treatment plan.
The neophyte senator said the government must immediately formulate a six-year National Multi-Sectoral HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan which will incorporate a prevention program that will have a strong focus on education and accessibility of reproductive health services.
A report from the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS or UNAIDS showed the Philippines registered the fastest-growing HIV-AIDS epidemic in the Asia-Pacific in the past six years with a 140 percent increase in the number of new infections to an estimated 10,500 in 2016 from 4,300 in 2010.
Meanwhile, data from the Department of Health showed that in May 2017 alone, 1,098 new cases of HIV-AIDS were reported, the highest recorded number of cases in the country since 1984 when infections were first recorded.