The other pandemic.
The number of HIV infections in the country just keeps growing, with newly diagnosed cases per day from January to May 2022 totaling 39. In the same month last year, “only” 30 Filipinos were reported to have been infected with HIV, according to Department of Health’s (DOH) HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP), with the total reported HIV cases for May 2021 reaching 645, which is less than half of the 1,308 total reported cases for May 2021.
Ninety-five percent of the newly reported cases were male; 45% were 25-34 years old at the time of diagnosis; and most of the new HIV cases came from the National Capital Region (NCR, 28%), CALABARZON (Region 4A, 20%), Central Luzon (Region 3, 12%), and Western Visayas (Region 7, 7%). These regions comprised 73% of the total number of HIV cases for May 2022.
MODES OF TRANSMISSION
Sexual contact remained the main mode of HIV transmission (97%), with less than 1% infected through sharing of infected needles, and less than 1% through vertical (formerly mother-to-child) transmission.
Sixty-four percent of those who were infected through sex engaged in male-to-male sex, 23% had sex with males and females, and 11% had male-female sex.
Similar to past DOH data, there were key populations infected by HIV, to wit:
- Seven HIV-positive pregnant women were reported; three cases were from Region 4A, one case from NCR, and one case from MIMAROPA (Region 4B)
- 84 Filipinos who worked overseas in the last five years tested HIV-positive; 93% (78) of them were male
- 8% (109) of the newly-diagnosed engaged in transactional sex; 48% (50) of the males paid for sex, 34% (35) accepted payment for sex, and 18% (19) engaged in both; meanwhile, of the five females who engaged in transactional sex, 40% (2) accepted payment, and 60% (3) paid and accepted payment
- 32% (416) of the reported cases for May 2022 belonged to the 15-24 age group, and 95% (397) of them male; 98% of the those in this age group were infected through sex
- 73 adolescents were infected with HIV; 27% w(20) ere 15-17 and 73% (53) were 18-19; 99% (72) of the reported cases were acquired through sex
- Five children aged under 10 years old were diagnosed with HIV; all of them were infected through vertical transmission
STILL A DEATH SENTENCE
For May 2022, 1,084 Filipinos living with HIV were enrolled for antiretroviral therapy (ART). To date, 61,250 PLHIVs are already receiving treatment.
But HIV continues to be a death sentence for many PLHIVs in the Philippines; in May, there were 21 reported deaths, all of them male. Five percent were 15-24 years old, 76% were 25-34 years old, and 19% belonged to the 25-39 age group.
As per HARP, the regions with the most number of reported deaths were Central Luzon with 29% of deaths (6 deaths), Cagayan Valley with 19% (4) of deaths, and NCR and CALABARZON with 14% each (3 deaths each).