Friday, April 9, 2010

DOH calls conference to halt advance of HIV/AIDS in RP

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 18:42:00 04/07/2010

Filed Under: Diseases, Health

MANILA, Philippines—Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral is calling for a "national coordinated response" to prevent the further spread of HIV-AIDS in the country and is organizing a national conference for this purpose next Monday.

"Everyone should be involved in addressing the HIV-AIDS epidemic," said a DOH report furnished the Inquirer.

The department asserted that "intensifying the campaign at various levels of collaboration can help significantly in reinforcing education of the people about HIV prevention and control measures."

"HIV has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization and has been a biomedical as well as a social issue. This alarm must be transformed into behavior change and accountability for one's actions—taking charge of our own overall health," the DOH report said.

Next Monday, the multisectoral Philippine National AIDS Council, which Cabral chairs, is scheduled to hold a conference to "inform leaders of society about the HIV-AIDS situation in the country."

The one-day meeting also aims to convince these leaders to "scale up the national response to HIV-AIDS."

In a statement on Wednesday, Cabral said that "with increasing cases of HIV reported in the past three years in the Philippines, it has now become imperative for the government to conduct an HIV-AIDS summit."

The HIV-AIDS conference, which will be held at the Manila Diamond hotel, "will serve as a venue to strengthen collaboration among key players in the national response (to the epidemic) and engage others in the realization of a harmonized, collaborative and scaled-up initiative to address the challenges of HIV-AIDS."

In another report, the DOH disclosed that it recorded a total of 835 AIDS cases between 1984 and 2010. During the period, a total of 314 AIDS victims (38 percent) died.

Of the 273 HIV cases registered by the DOH during the past two months, at least three were positive for AIDS.

"For February alone, a total of 130 HIV cases were registered, an increase of 117 percent compared to the same period last year," said the DOH.

"The number of cases have increased significantly," it added. "From one new case reported every three days in 2000, it increased to one per day in 2007 and doubled to two new cases per day in 2009."

This year, about five new cases are being reported to the DOH’s AIDS registry each day, and, according to the DOH, "The number only represents the tip of the iceberg."

During the past 26 years, the DOH recorded a total of 4,697 HIV cases.

A total of 3,477, or 74 percent of the cases, were males, 23 percent of whom were in the 25-29 age group.

Another 20 percent of the victims were in the 30-34 age group, followed by 16 percent in the 35-39 age group.

Ninety percent of the HIV cases (4,203) got the infection through sexual contact: heterosexual (54 percent), homosexual (30 percent) and bisexual (16 percent).

The other modes of HIV transmission were needle-sharing among injecting drug users, blood transfusions, needle-prick injuries and mother-to-child infection.

In January and February, at least 16 overseas Filipino workers were reported HIV positive, said the DOH. Twelve of them were males while four were females. Their ages ranged between 18 and 69.

All 16 HIV cases got the infection through sexual contact.

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