Young Filipinos aged 15 to 24 remain most vulnerable to being infected with HIV, based on September statistics where the age group made up 31 percent of the new cases reported.
According to the Epidemiological Bureau, the disease surveillance arm of the Department of Health, in its HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP) report for the month of September, half of the 938 cases recorded during the period were from the 25 to 34 age group, and majority (97 percent) were meal. Median age of persons infected was 28 years old.
Just as worrisome as the numbers, which continue to escalate - majority of the cases (87 percent) were asymptomatic at the time of reporting.
Male-to-male sexual contact remained the top mode of transmission, accounting for 548 of the new cases. On the other hand, 22 cases of needle sharing was recorded.
Health authorities continue to be concerned over the infection trend among young people. In the last several months, they accounted for a third of total cases being reported. In September, this was 286 cases, with 96 percent of them among males, and 99 percent of the cases infected through sexual contact, the HARP report noted.
Meanwhile, among special populations, 65 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have been reported to the HARP as well as 103 people who engaged in transactional sexual contact. Five of those found positive with HIV were pregnant.
Forty (40) deaths due to HIV/AIDS were reported during the month, 95 percent of whom were males, while 18 belonged o the 25-34 age group.
The National Capital Region remains the region with the highest prevalence at 348, followed by Region 4A (MIMAROPA) with 147, then Region 7 with 93. Region 3 (87) and Region 11 (56) round up the areas with highest incidence of HIV.
The September cases bring the total of HIV cases to 47,921, 4,686 of which are full-blown AIDS cases.
During a recent press conference, the Health department warned HIV/AIDS cases may balloon to 142,000 in 2022, then climb further to 313,000 by 2030.
Despite the grim projections, Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III said that successes have been achieved and that the department will continue their work in preventing future cases.
“We commit to provide and facilitate access to information for all Filipinos, prevention services for key population, and treatment for People Living with Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome, by 2022. The goal is to provide antiretroviral treatment to 90 percent of PLHIV,” said Secretary Duque. MIMS