A local approach to HIV and AIDS

Published: August 29, 2012

In 2010, UNAIDS published a report saying that new infections of HIV and AIDS have been declining globally. There are, however, seven countries which are an aberration. They observed an incidence increase of more than 25 percent compared to their 2001 levels. These seven countries are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan—and the Philippines.
 
Data from the Philippine National AIDS Council support this. In fact, in the month of June 2012 alone, there were 295 new HIV cases recorded, a 66-percent increase from the number recorded in June 2011. This brings to 1,600 the number of new cases reported in the first six months of this year.
 
Ninety-six percent of those infected this year were male, with a median age of 28 years.
 
Since the first case was documented here in the Philippines in 1984, there have been 9,964 individuals diagnosed with HIV. Ninety-two percent were infected through sexual contact, 4 percent through needle-sharing among injecting drug users. The balance stands for mother-to-child transmissions and absence of information.
 
The PNAC report adds that from 2007, there has been a shift in the predominant trend of sexual transmission from heterosexual contact (20 percent) to males having sex with other males, or MSM (80 percent).
 
Some may argue that the number of HIV-infected Filipinos comprises a very small portion of the total population, and that there are many other pressing health problems—or other problems for that matter—that must first be addressed before this.
 
But anything that spreads this fast is cause for alarm. In 2000, the Philippines along with 192 other nations, signed up for the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight time-bound goals that sought to eradicate poverty. MDG 6 deals with the reversal of the spread of HIV and AIDS and the achievement of universal access to treatment by the year 2015 (the other aspect is the containment of malaria).

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