DOH: HIV spread slowing down
Although there was a record 11,400 new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in 2018, the number was just slightly higher than 2017’s, suggesting that new infections may be starting to plateau, according to a top health official.
Data from the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH) showed that 11,427 new HIV cases were recorded last year, the highest since monitoring began in 1984.
The figure was higher by just 326 cases compared to the annual average increase of 1,500 cases since 2013.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III attributed the apparent slowdown in new infections to relentless calls for testing and information campaigns by both the government and private sector in the last few years.
“Testing has become part of activities of the public,” Duque said.
He added, though, that there’s still much to be done to further slow the pace of HIV spread in the Philippines, which was the fastest in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2018 alone, the DOH said complications from HIV and full-blown AIDS had killed 596 Filipinos. The figure was higher than 2017’s 497 deaths.
Duque said prevention is key.
In 2018, at least 5,756 people diagnosed with HIV were between 25-34 years old. At least 3,391 people aged 15 to 24 years old were diagnosed with HIV in the same year.
In nearly all of the cases, the virus was sexually transmitted mainly through homosexual intercourse.
The National Capital Region had the most HIV cases (3,596). Calabarzon followed with 1,871 cases. In Central Luzon, 1,230 cases were reported.
The DOH asked those diagnosed with HIV to avail themselves of free antiretroviral drugs at different treatment hubs.
As of December 2018, the DOH said at least 33,575 people had been getting HIV treatment.
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