By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, (PNA) — The number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the Philippines is projected to hit 32,379 by the end of 2014, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
During the Senate inquiry on six bills that will strengthen policies on HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment, DOH assistant secretary Enrique Tayag said the reported HIV cases has reached 19,330 since 1984 when the first Filipino HIV case was confirmed by the DOH.
”The new HIV cases has actually increased by 532 percent from 2008 to 2013 and for January to June this year alone, the total reported cases hit 2,814,” Tayag told the Senate committee on health and demography chaired by Sen. Pia Cayetano.
Tayag said out of the 19,330 reported cases from 1984 to June 2014, a total of 1,766 are AIDS cases.
He said the number of persons who do not voluntarily undergo testing for HIV infection are included in the projected number of persons with HIV by end of this year.
Based on data presented by Tayag, the populations at risk to HIV infection are people who inject drugs (PWID), particularly in Cebu where HIV prevalence has increased from 0.40 percent in 2007 to alarming 52.30 percent in 2013.
”HIV prevalence also increased from 0.30 to 3.50 percent among the males who have sex with males, followed by freelance female sex workers and female sex workers in registered entertainment establishments,” he said.
To minimize the spread of HIV infection, Tayag said the DOH has listed 75 priority areas for HIV intervention, including 53 in the Luzon led by Angeles City and Caloocan; 12 in Visayas including Cebu City; and nine in Mindanao particularly in Davao City.
Tayag said the DOH has proposed Php308 million budget, including Php11 million for the purchase of condoms, for 2015.
”There are 11,384 projected persons living with HIV who will be needed Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) by 2015,” Tayag said.
Under Senate Bill 1217, Sen. Grace Poe proposed the removal of the HIV and AIDS legal framework that conflicts with laws recently enacted, “thus restricting actions that are crucial to halt the spread of the epidemic.”
Poe also proposed the establishment of a National HIV and AIDS Plan, and strengthening of the stigma reduction mechanisms of the present law — Republic Act 8504 otherwise known as “The Philippine Aids Prevention and Control Act of 1998.”
In his own Senate Bill 879, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada proposed the counseling and testing of pregnant women and newborn infants for HIV infection.
On the other hand, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito proposed in his Senate Bill 1100 an effective information-dissemination, counseling and education to protect the citizens from deadly AIDS.