Some 20% of new HIV cases found to have AIDS
MANILA, Philippines — Despite the government’s repeated calls for the public to have themselves tested early for HIV—the human immunodeficiency virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS — almost 20 percent of the more than 1,100 new cases recorded in July were still found to have already advanced to AIDS.
At 18 percent, or 199 of the total 1,111 new cases in July, the proportion of people with advanced HIV infection at the time they had themselves tested, had remained largely unchanged based on Department of Health (DOH) monitoring.
Since the start of the year, those who had clinical manifestations of AIDS represented between 15 percent to 20 percent of all new cases. The DOH data showed that the average number of those with AIDS at the time of testing has stayed the same over the last two years.
Health officials earlier appealed to the public, especially those from vulnerable sectors such as the youth and men who have sex with men (MSM), to have themselves tested early for HIV so they could receive treatment immediately.
Based on the World Health Organization’s HIV guidelines, unexplained chronic diarrhea for a month, pulmonary tuberculosis, recurrent severe bacterial pneumonia and chronic herpes simplex infection are among the clinical signs that a person’s condition has already advanced to AIDS.
While antiretroviral therapy doesn’t cure HIV, it helps reduce a person’s viral load and the risk of transmitting the virus.
The DOH said in June that a total of 38,903 people living with HIV are currently receiving treatment.
In the latest report, the most affected are those between 25 and 34 years old, who compose 51 percent of the new cases (567).
Most HIV cases—34 percent or 380—are recorded in the National Capital Region.
Other regions that reported high HIV incidence are Calabarzon (180), Central Luzon (134) and Central Visayas (93).
Earlier, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said that while new cases worldwide from 2010 to 2018 had declined by at least 18 percent, the Philippines saw the “fastest” HIV growth rate as infections in the country surged by 203 percent in the same period.
UNAIDS country director Louie Ocampo said that among the factors behind the continued rise of HIV cases was the lack of access of key vulnerable populations to contraceptives like condoms. HIV testing and treatment also remain wanting.
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