More than 2,500 Filipinos died from AIDS
More than 2,500 Filipinos have died from HIV or human immunodeficiency virus which weakens the immune system since 1984, data cited by a party-list representative show.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Department of Health show that from January 1984 to February 2018, 52,280 individuals were diagnosed with HIV. About 5,336 of them had advanced infection or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Of the total, 48,873 or 93 percent of the victims were male.
What is alarming, according to Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy is that a large number of recent cases and deaths involved young individuals. The most number of cases were recorded in the past five years, or January 2013 to February 2018. During the five-year period, 2,102 deaths were recorded out of 40,663 cases.
“More and more of the new generation of Filipinos, aged 24 and younger, are getting infected with HIV-AIDS,” she said.
“New figures just released by the DOH show that in January and February this year, 549 young Filipinos tested positive for HIV, and 79 of them are aged 10 to 19. Total reported cases for these two months were 1,892 and 304 of them were already at the advanced stages of HIV-AIDS when they were tested,” Dy said.
“I am alarmed by these new data. We need the new law on the government’s program on HIV-AIDS as soon as possible,” the legislator said.
She said the House of Representatives has already approved a bill on the matter, putting the pressure on the Senate to pass its own counterpart measure.
“We need a more aggressive implementation of the DOH’s HIV-AIDS interventions and of the Reproductive Health Law,” she said. “We need these programs to connect with Filipinos families, especially the children, teenagers, and young adults.”
“HIV-AIDS is clearly and squarely a public health issue. It requires a compassionate approach to HIV patients and to people at high risk of getting HIV because of sharing of needles and unsafe practices during transactional sex, male-to-male sex,” the congresswoman said.
Angat Tayo Party-list Rep. Harlin Neil Abayon III said of the 871 new cases in January and February, 140 involved overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“For the whole year of 2017, 814 OFWs were HIV-positive. So that means the total so far from last year and this year stands at 954,” Abayon said.
This brought the total to 5,537 OFWs who were diagnosed with HIV from January 1984 to February 2018. Those 5,537 cases represent 11 percent of total HIV-AIDS cases of 52,280.
“Eleven percent is a very significant figure and this is more than enough basis for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to give attention to this problem,” Abayon said.