Thursday, June 09, 2011

AIDS in the Philippines

The total number of HIV/AIDS cases in the Philippines living with HIV is expected to go up to 45,000 cases by 2015, driven mostly be the so-called hidden population coming form men who have sex with men,
freelance female sex workers and injected drug users.
Department of Health Assistant Sec. Enrique Tayag, who is also the director of the National Epidemiology Center, said that the spike was first observed in 2008 and has since grown dramatically, shattering the myth that the HIV/AIDS situation in the country is "low and slow."
"It took us twenty years for the figure to breach the 200 cases mark
(This was in 2005, when the total case was 210). Now we have four to five cases daily," said Tayag during the media seminar on reducing the stigma and discrimination in HIV and AIDS.
"This is alarming because a decade ago we have one reported case every three days," Tayag said.
Tayag said that he made his projections until 2015 there is still hope that this administration can do something to reverse this.
But otherwise, the trend is increasing rapidly.
In 2010, there were 1,591 reported cases of HIV/AIDS, which according to Tayag, is already a 90 percent increase from 2009 which had an annual total of 835 reproted cases.
From January to March this year, there were already 483 cases, which is already higher than the 2007 total of 342 cases.
He said that last year, the estimate number (not only the reported) of Filipinos living with HIV is at 12,200. This year, it will be expected to go up to 18,2900 and 25,040,000 in 2012. If the rate goes unhampered, 37,750,000 in 2014 and 36,000 in 2015, the year when President Aquino will bow down from office.
Tayag said that the young male population is particularly vulnerable.
He said that prior to 2007, the male population from 20 to 29 years old account for 23 percent of all cases. From 2007 to 2010, they now account for 34 percent of the cases.
"That means they now make up one-third of the cases. The implication means that transmission is now at the younger ages," Tayag said.
He said that this year so far since March, almost all of the cases are sexually transmitted and of the sexual contacts reported, 46 percent are homosexual in nature and 34 percent are bisexual in nature.
He said that among the cases in March 2011, 70 percent of the cases were homosexual in nature and 58 percent were bisexual. In March 2010, less than half (49 percent) were homosexual and 30 percent were bisexual.
Tayag said that even among the overseas Filipino workers, there are indications that transmission is from heterosexual to msm (men who have sex with men) transmission.
He said that the percentage of HIV transmission has gone down only because the rates among the other risk groups have gone up. He said that the cases among OFW is growing slightly from 122 cases in 2008 to 164 in 2009 and 174 last year. In the first quarter of 2011, there were already 63 cases among OFW.
According to Tayag, most of the cases from 2007 to 2009 at 70 percent come from the National Capital Region and Southern Tagalog. He said that in 2010, 88 percent comes from these two regions as well as from
Central Visayas.
The inclusion of Central Visayas stemmed from the increasing number of HIV transmission among injecting drug users. There are 155 reported cases among the IDU, he said.
The HIV cases of IDU particularly in Cebu City has spiked up tremendously from 0.59 percent in 2009 to 53.16 percent in 2011. That means that more than half of the IDUs already have HIV. Other places with significant IDU are General Santos, Mandaue City and Zamboanga City.
Tayag said that the IDUs in the country are not into heroin or other pricey drugs but into Novaine, a painkiller. He said that some shoot this rug up to ten times daily and needle sharing has become a norm.
He said that cases among the MSM, IDU and the freelance female sex workers have gone up because these subsectors are "invisible" and they are difficult to reach or give interventions.
In the survey of the ten sentinel sites identified by DOH, HIV prevalence rose from 1.05 percent in 2009 to 2.12 percent in 2011 among the MSM group and 0.54 percent to 0.68 percent among the freelance female sex workers. The rate has gone down among the registered female sex workers, however, which Tayag said is a success
In 2005, HIV prevalence in the sentinel sites among the registered female sex workers was the highest among the three groups at 0.15 percent but it has gone down to 0.13 percent in 2011.
Tayag qualified that the registered female sex workers are not registered sex workers per se but working in registered establishments.


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