“Ang mangopya magkaka-HIV!” my professor in gynecology would say.
True enough, HIV is more serious than a failing grade. And today in our country, it’s getting worse than you think you know.
From an average of one HIV case every three days in the year 2000, the Department of Health (DOH) registered 12 new cases daily in January this year. These are equivalent to 380 new cases which is 79% higher compared to the 212 cases recorded in January 2012.
“(This is) the most number of new cases per month since 1984 (when the registry started). The cumulative total is now at 12,082,” Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said. The report also showed that 1,194 of these have progressed into AIDS. AIDS is the last stage after acquiring HIV. The death toll is 353.
Bulk of the new HIV cases were:
- males and were acquired through males having sex with males (MSM). This is a shift in the predominant trend of sexual transmission from a high heterosexual contact in 2007. Studies also showed that males having sex with males used social media to hook up with sexual partners.
- aged 20 to 29 years old. But, there’s also a growing number of infected young people, aged 15 to 24. As a response, some organizations launched HIV campaigns targeting the youth.
- geographically from the National Capital Region. Also, HIV positive OFWs have an increasing trend.
Of the 12,082 HIV positive cases reported from 1984 to 2013, 93% (11,181) were infected through sexual contact, making it the predominant mode of transmission. 4% (444) through needle sharing among injecting drug users and less than one percent of the cases were through mother-to-child transmission (59), blood transfusion (20), and needle prick injury (three).
The Philippine HIV and AIDS registry also reported that most cases are asymptomatic at the time of reporting. How about the people who are asymptomatic but haven’t got tested? Many different reasons may keep them from getting tested for HIV but while they are not aware of having the disease, the virus is continuously spreading. If those people underwent HIV testing, could you imagine how the statistics above would be?
According to the 2012 Global Report of UNAIDS, new incidents of HIV infections across 25 low- and middle-income countries dropped by more than 50% in a decade (2001 to 2011). Globally, the AIDS response is on the upswing. Sadly, they said, Philippine story is something else.
Findings in the Philippines went against the trend and painted a grimmer picture. The report revealed that the AIDS epidemic in the country is on the rise and showed a 25% increase in new HIV incidents in the country.
“Although HIV incidence in the country is less than one percent of the population, HIV cases in the country are increasing. If the trend continues, DOH projects up to 37,000 new cases of HIV in 2015, the supposed deadline to reverse HIV incidents set by UNAIDS,” Dr. Tayag noted.
Prevention is the only cure. Now that the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RA 10354) or the Reproductive Health Law has been enacted, may it be adequately enforced along with efforts from the other government and non-government agencies to help in achieving our goal of “getting to zero” by 2015.
This eye-opener calls for continuous prayer and love revolution. I believe that any human effort will not suffice unless God intervenes. It may seem impossible, based on the statistics presented, to reach the goal; but if you believe that God cares, there is hope.
Even if you are living with HIV/AIDS, it is not the end of your life! Purity is more than abstaining from sex, it’s about a heart being changed by God. In fact, there are people like you who, despite their past, are using their lives as an opportunity to share God’s love to others. People need the Lord. Let’s help each other!
Guest post by Rovy Jervis P. Malasan, TLW volunteer