MANILA, Philippines - For the past eight years, most countries in the world have been reporting a steady decrease in HIV/AIDS infection but the Philippines and six other nations have been recording an upward trend, a researcher from the University of the Philippines said.
In the health forum titled “Health Update Manila” held last Friday at UP Manila, Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana of the UP Manila National Institute of Health said HIV infections in the Philippines have gone up by more than 800 percent in less than a decade.
“Worldwide, cases have gone down by 19 percent from 2001 to 2011... The Philippines is one of the seven countries in the world to have seen a significant increase in cases in the last eight years,” he said.
The six other nations recording increased number of HIV cases are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
“In the Philippines, while just over 7,000 cases have been reported since 1984, more than half of these were diagnosed only in the last four years,” Salvana said.
In July, the Department of Health (DOH) had recorded 204 new HIV/AIDS cases. This brought the number of cases to 7,235. Of this, 884 progressed into AIDS.
Of the total number of 7,235 cases, 1,220 were registered this year alone; 327 have died from AIDS since HIV/AID surveillance began in the country in 1984.
The DOH had attributed the rise in the number of cases to the growing number of HIV cases among males who have sex with males and female sex workers. Injecting drug users are now seen as the next leading contributors to the epidemic.
“With 204 new cases, it is the highest number of cases ever, with approximately seven new cases a day. This is in contrast to one new case every three days in the year 2000,” Salvana said.
There is still no permanent cure for HIV/AIDS but modern treatment, called highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART), has “been shown to restore life expectancy” if treatment is started early.
Salvana said early treatment using HAART decreases the patient’s ability to transmit the virus by 96 percent.
He said the government needs to strengthen its information drive on HIV/AIDS to encourage the public to stay away from activities that can expose them to the virus. People who live risky lifestyles are encouraged to voluntarily submit themselves to HIV tests so they can get medical attention if needed.