Friday, January 29, 2010


The Department of Health (DOH) said cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are on the rise with 297 reported cases from January to July this year compared to the 197 cases reported in the same period last year.

The DOH-National Epidemiology Center (NEC) said there is a 66 percent increase of HIV Ab seropositive cases this year than in the same period in 2007.

In the month of July alone, the NEC noted a 71 percent increase with a total of 53 HIV Ab seropositive cases reported last month, compared to the 31 reported in July 2007.

The DOH-NEC report also showed 91 percent of the cases last month were males with ages ranging from 21 to 57. From the total, 25 percent are from the 25 to 29 year-old group and more than half of cases 29 years or older old.

The report also said most of the cases were from the National Capital Region (NCR) and, todate, 96 percent of the cases were still asymptomatic.

Asymptomatic HIV infection is a period of varying length in which the immune system slowly deteriorates without symptoms.

Asymptomatic HIV infection does not have symptoms associated with HIV, such as fever, opportunistic infections, oral thrush and weight loss.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said although the Philippines remains to be an HIV low prevalence country, it should not be a reason to be complacent as statistics and trends show that the number of those infected are on the rise.

Duque said there was an average of 20 cases reported every month during the previous years, but the average rose to 29 starting last year.

There are a total of 342 HIV cases last year and the cases during the first seven months this year - with 297 - almost close to the annual total of 2007.

The DOH chief said it is now imperative for the government to focus attention on prevention activities and heighten response for available and affordable treatments against the disease.

He said there is a risk for an AIDS epidemic as transmission from homosexual (81 to 107) and bisexual contact (26 to 74) both increased.

To avert the possibility of having a full-blown HIV epidemic, the health chief said that the Philippines has already adopted and instituted measures in key areas like governance; prevention; treatment, care and support.

So far, the DOH is conducting series of trainings for health service providers and the procurement of basic laboratory equipment for social hygiene clinics located in identified risk zones.

It also set up local HIV/AIDS response centers in 39 local government units nationwide.

The DOH-NEC said from 1984 to July 2008, there are 3,358 HIV cases reported in the country and 796 of them are AIDS cases. Out of the 796 AIDS cases, 310 had already died.

From the total of HIV Ab seropositive cases, 2,287 (68 percent) were males and 1,142 (34 percent) of them are reported Overseas Filipino Workers.

The age groups with the most number of cases were 25-29 years (21 percent), 30-34 years (21 percent) and 35-39 years (17 percent).

Sexual intercourse was the most common mode of transmission with 93 percent accounting for all AIDS cases.

More than half of sexual transmissions (435) was through heterosexual contact, followed by homosexual contact (239) and bisexual contact (63).

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