Health Care

HIV: Philippines has highest infection rate in Asia-Pacific, United Nations says

HIV: Philippines has highest infection rate in Asia-Pacific, United Nations says”

Genesis Samonte, head of the health ministry's public health surveillance department, said men who have sex with men were most at risk.

"Ditangco is no fear-monger".

But the agency noted that while the Philippines has the fastest-growing epidemic in terms of percentage increase, the actual number of new infections is not as high as several countries in the region that report tens of thousands annually.

There were 10,500 Filipinos infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at the end of 2016, up from 4,300 in 2010, Health Minister Paulyn Ubial told a media conference, citing data from UNAIDS. The Philippines is one of eight countries that account for more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the region. Because of sociocultural, legal, political and economic challenges, exacerbated by a poor health system infrastructure, the HIV response is not strategically directed toward programs for key populations in countries with concentrated epidemics. "It is time the government has to treat HIV as a national emergency".

More news: German ministers and carmakers meet to 'save diesel'

Reuters: Philippines has highest HIV infection growth rate in Asia-Pacific: U.N. "Data from Senegal, The Gambia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria indicate that a substantial number of infections occur four to seven times among men who have sex with men (MSM), many of whom also report having sex with women".

But amid these official expressions of concern, the government continues to delay the rollout of proven low-tech and low-cost interventions that can address the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men.

Human Rights Watch researcher Carlos H. Conde wrote on Tuesday the Philippines' government must "remove current official obstacles to condom access and usage as well as ensure schools include safer sex and HIV prevention education in the curriculum".

Hontiveros said that the government must immediately formulate a six-year National Multi-Sectoral HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan that would incorporate a prevention program that would have "a strong focus on education and accessibility of reproductive health services". The epidemic in West Africa is deemed to be heterosexually driven, but recent data suggest that sex between men may play a significant role in the spread of HIV infection.

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