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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is “winning the gold medal” for having the fastest growing HIV epidemic for high-risk groups in Asia, a former judge in the Australian High Court who also served as commissioner for the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) said yesterday.
According to Michael Kirby, the number of people infected with HIV in the at-risk groups (men who have sex with men, gay men, sex workers, transgenders and injecting drug users) has grown by 425 percent in the last five years.
“The Philippines is winning the gold medal in Asia for the fastest rising epidemic in those populations. Once the HIV virus gets into the community, it is likely to spread everywhere so it needs a lot of plain speaking,” Kirby told The STAR in an interview in Makati.
Kirby was in Manila for a five-day speaking tour on issues dealing with HIV and judicial integrity. The tour ended yesterday.
“The big problem in the Philippines is the high level in the at-risk groups,” Kirby said.
He said the apparent lack of temerity in discussing HIV/AIDS openly in Philippine society is contributing to the silent but rapid spread of the deadly virus.
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