Saturday, December 25, 2010

New HIV cases up 40% in November

MANILA, Philippines - One hundred and 12 Filipinos tested positive for HIV in November, up 40% from the 80 reported cases in November last year, according to the HIV and AIDS Registry of the Department of Health (DOH).

Health officials said 92% of the cases are males. At least 62% of the new HIV positive patients are between the ages of 20-29. Males having sex with other males (82%) was the predominant type of sexual transmission of HIV.

Eight of the 112 reported cases were overseas Filipino workers; all 8 acquired the HIV infection through sexual contact. At least 160 OFWs have tested positive for HIV infection since the start of the year.

In all, the DOH has recorded 1,417 new HIV cases from January to November.

It said 11 units of donated blood also tested positive for HIV.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines earlier said OFWs, who now account for one in every four HIV positive Filipinos, are highly susceptible to the virus, as they are exposed to foreign cultures that abet high-risk behavior, including commercial sex sans the use of prophylactics.

Rep. Arnel Ty of party-list group LPGMA pushed for increased government funding for preventive HIV/AIDS education.

"It would be sensible for us to spend a lot more for preventive education now to reduce the future human suffering due to HIV/AIDS, and avoid the potentially larger costs associated with the treatment of more patients," Ty said in a statement.

The Philippine National AIDS Council has warned the number of HIV cases in the country could reach 46,000 by 2015, unless effective strategies are put in place to check the spread of the disease.

Ty pressed his call for Congress to revisit the 1998 AIDS Prevention and Control Law and reinforce the fight against the highly destructive disease.

In House Resolution 724, Ty cited the need for Congress to ascertain whether existing policies and measures under the 12-year-old law are enough to quell the HIV/AIDS epidemic and improve the conditions of Filipinos living with the disease.

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