MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded an increase in HIV/AIDS cases by 37 percent in 2011.
“Compared to the 1,591 cases (in 2010), the 2,349 cases (recorded from January to December 2011) is 37 percent higher,” Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said.
According to Tayag, the 268 cases registered in December alone is the highest since the agency began record-keeping in 1984.
Tayag said his department was particularly alarmed that out of the 268 cases, 94 had already developed into AIDS.
“There were only 20 cases (in 2010) so this is an increase of three to four times. This means that many of the new cases (come forward) when they are already in advanced stage,” he added.
The DOH also observed a change in the mode of transmission of the AIDS virus among infected overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from heterosexual contact to men-having-sex-with-men (MSM).
“They are following the local pattern which is MSM. We have to make our programs target-based,” Tayag said.
For over two decades, HIV/AIDS was spread predominantly through unprotected sex with female sex workers.
However, in 2007, the DOH had noticed that MSM, which also include straight men, was rapidly increasing. This has been attributed to the rise of social networking websites, which have made it easier for men to connect with each other.
Two years ago, the agency also observed that HIV/AIDS cases were increasing among injecting drug users, raising fears among experts because the virus spreads rapidly through the use of contaminated needles.
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