In August 2019, there were 1,228 newly confirmed HIV-positive individuals reported to the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP). This was 17% higher compared with the diagnosed cases (1,047) in the same period in 2018.
This is worth noting: The figure is ALSO higher than the month before, July 2019, when the HARP recorded 35 new HIV cases per day.
As of end-August, the Philippines now has 36 new HIV cases per day; up one case in July 2019.
As contained in the still-delayed report of the DOH, 15% of the new cases in August (or 185) had clinical manifestations of advanced HIV infection (WHO clinical stage 3 or 4) at the time of diagnosis.
Ninety-five percent (1,170) of the newly diagnosed were male. The median age was 27 years old (age range: 1-72 years old). Almost half of the cases (47%, 578) were 25-34 years old and 35% (424) were 15-24 years old at the time of testing.
More than a third (34%, 417) were from the National Capital Region (NCR). Region 4A (18%, 218), Region 3 (9%, 117), Region 7 (8%, 93), and Region 6 (7%, 82) comprised the top five regions with the most number of newly diagnosed cases for the month, together accounting for 76% of the total figure.
Sexual contact remained as the predominant mode of transmission (98%, 1,202). Among the newly diagnosed, 61% (748) reported transmission through male to male sex, 25% (310) through sex with both males and females, and 12% (144) were through male to female sex. Other modes of transmission were sharing of infected needles (1%, 13) and vertical (formerly mother-to-child) transmission (<1%, 2). Eleven cases had no data on mode of transmission.
Among the newly diagnosed females this month, nine were pregnant at the time of diagnosis. Five cases were from NCR, two from Region 7 and one case each from Regions 3 and 11.
HIV continues to greatly adversely affect the young.
In August 2019, 424 (35%) cases were among youth 15-24 years old; and 97% were male. Almost all were infected through sexual contact (29 male-female sex, 288 male-male sex, 105 sex with both males and females). One case was infected through sharing of needles and one had no data on mode of transmission.
Still for the same period, there were 69 newly diagnosed adolescents (10-19 years old) at the time of diagnosis. Of these, two cases were 10-14 years old, 18 were 15-17 years old, and 49 were 18-19 years old. Almost all were infected through sexual contact (four male-female sex, 48 male-male sex, and 16 had sex with both males and females) and one had no data on mode of transmission. In addition, there were two diagnosed cases less than 10 years old and both were infected through vertical/mother-to-child transmission.
Sixty-three Filipinos who worked overseas within the past five years, whether on land or at sea, were diagnosed in August 2019. They comprised 5% of the total newly diagnosed cases for the month. Of these, 86% (54) were male. All were infected through sexual contact (seven male-female sex, 30 male-male sex, and 17 sex with both males and females). The ages of male OFWs ranged from 21 to 68 years (median: 32 years). Four were 15-24 years old, 27 were 25-34 years old, 22 were 35-49 years old, and one case was 50 years & older. Among the nine female OFWs diagnosed in August 2019, four each were in 25-34 & 35-49 years old age group and one was 50 years and older at the time of testing. The age range among diagnosed female OFWs were 31 to 56 years (median: 35 years old).
The number of those getting infected with HIV from transactional sex is still noteworthy.
In August 2019, 13% (163) of the newly diagnosed engaged in transactional sex. Ninety-eight percent (159) were male and aged from 13 to 72 years old (median: 28 years). Fifty-eight percent (92) of the males reported paying for sex only, 35% (56) reported accepting payment for sex only and 7% (11) engaged in both. Also, among the four female cases who engaged in transactional sex, two were reported to have accepted payment for sex only, one case was paying for sex only and one case had engaged in both paying and accepting payment in exchange for sex.
Meanwhile, and as already stated, nine pregnant women were newly diagnosed with HIV. Five cases were from NCR, two from Region 7 and one case each from Regions 3 and 11. The age of diagnosis ranged from 19 to 36 (median age: 31).
ACCESS TO MEDS
The number of those in ART has FINALLY breached half the total number of PLHIVs.
The first case of HIV infection in the Philippines was reported in 1984. Since then, there have been 70,740 confirmed HIV cases reported to the HARP.
In August 2019, there were 922 patients who were initiated on ART. The median CD4 of these patients upon enrollment was 207 cells/mm. With the 922, a total of 40,952 people living with HIV (PLHIV) were presently on ART as of end-August. Most of whom were males (97%). The age of reported cases ranged from 1 to 81 years (median: 31 years old). Ninety-five percent were on first line regimen, 4% were on second line, and 1% were on other line of regimen.
Still also worth noting is the continuing problem with access to treatment in the Philippines. The DOH itself has been lambasted for its problematic procurement issues that affect ART intake; and this is even if DOH continues to deny that there are issues hounding its HIV-related efforts.
But that HIV is no longer a death sentence remains an invalid claim in the Philippines.
In August 2019, there were 70 reported AIDS-related deaths. Ninety-six percent (67) were males. One (1%) were less than 15 years old at the time of death, 16 (23%) cases were 15-24 years old, 30 (43%) were 25-34 years old, 19 (27%) were 35-49 years old and four (6%) were 50 years and older. Eighty-nine percent of the cases were reported to have acquired the infection through sexual contact.
Sexual contact (96%) was the most common mode of HIV transmission among reported deaths (752 through male-female sex, 1,698 through male-male sex, 987 through males who have sex with both males and females). Other modes of transmission of reported deaths were sharing of infected needles (79), vertical/mother-to-child transmission (26),
To stress, the actual number of AIDS-related deaths in the country is questionable because of non- and/or under-reporting.