January 3, 2011
Though the Philippines has a national HIV prevalence of less than 0.1 percent, UNAIDS is closely monitoring concentrated epidemics within certain regions, said Teresita Marie Bagasao, country coordinator. Although HIV prevalence among those at highest risk ranges from 4 percent to 53 percent in some areas, the nation's low overall prevalence has lulled many people into a false sense of security, she said.
In UNAIDS' 2010 global AIDS report, released in late November, the Philippines was one of seven countries in which HIV incidence increased by more than 25 percent between 2001 and 2009. Among Asian countries, only the Philippines and Bangladesh were reporting increases in HIV cases, with others either stable or decreasing.
The Department of Health reported 1,305 new HIV cases in the first 10 months of 2010, compared with 835 for all of 2009. Sex between men accounted for almost 80 percent of the 2010 cases, and more than half of those infected were ages 20-29.
The Philippines needs to re-examine its current interventions, said Bagasao, noting the factors contributing to the rise include continued risk behaviors and pervasive misconceptions among those at highest risk. The country's national AIDS response has yet to define its prevention strategy and set quality standards, and its program is not operating, she said.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
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