Two packs containing HIV-positive blood were discovered among those donated to the Batangas chapter of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

The donors of the infected blood packs - whose identities were undisclosed to protect their privacy - were promptly notified, said Batangas PRC Chapter Administrator Ronald Generoso during a media forum.

Mr Generoso said stringent screening procedures enabled the detection of the human immunodeficiency syndrome - pathogen present in the two blood packs. Screening prior to blood donation includes a questionnaire about a person's health condition and relationships, then is backed by laboratory confirmatory tests for various diseases such as syphilis, malaria, hepatitis A, B, and C, he added.

The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed 550 units of blood were found infected with HIV in 2016, citing reports from the HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines, Epidemiological Bureau (EB) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

In August, there were 71 HIV-positive blood units detected, while the lowest - 25, was recorded in February.

"The blood units were discarded after initial screening at the blood banks and sent to RITM for confirmation," said the DOH.

According to a recent report from the UNAIDS, the Philippines has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics worldwide, with 10,500 Filipinos infected with HIV, compared to just 4,300 in 2010.

In May alone, the country recorded its highest case rate of 1,098 new cases, AIDS included. Majority of the cases involved men who have sex with men (MSM), followed by those who share needles and inject drugs.

"We're not talking about those who are openly gay. Any male who has sex with another male for whatever reason is at risk," said Dr Genesis Samonte, from EB's HIV/AIDS monitoring arm, explained.

Eamonn Murphy, meanwhile, said that if the country can redirect its sources into prevention, such as addressing those most risk, it can still end the epidemic by 2030. MIMS

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