Another outbreak is feared to affect the Philippines: HIV cases among Filipino males are seen rising, according to latest data from the Department of Health and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).
Statistics from the DOH show that the average number of people newly diagnosed with HIV on a daily basis is 35. Furthermore, the number of HIV cases among sexually active males from January to December 2019 was pegged at 7,743 male to male transmissions.
Data show that from January 1984 to December 2019, sexual contact among men who have sex with men (MSM) is at 85 percent or 59,906, and thus was the dominant mode of transmission. This is followed by male-female sex at 11 percent or 7,476, and sharing of infected needles at 3 percent or 2,166.
More than half (52 percent or 31,377) of men who have sex with men were 25-34 years old at the time of testing, and 31 percent or 18,555 were 15-24 years old.
These figures prompted the DOH Central Office National AIDS and STI (sexually transmitted infection) Prevention and Control Program to sound the alarm over how more young Filipino men are being infected by HIV.
“The lockdown imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges and difficulties to a lot of people, and people living with HIV (PLHIV) have not been spared,” says Dr. Louie Ocampo, country director of UNAIDS Philippines.
Dr. Ocampo continued, “Early on, for example, accessing life-saving antiretroviral therapy and prevention services including condoms became difficult. It’s imperative therefore that all stakeholders work together to ensure uninterrupted access to HIV services and that we remain relentless in our drive to curb a possible second wave of the HIV epidemic in the country.”
As HIV cases among Filipino males rise, condom brand Durex calls for continued awareness and support for the LGBTQIA+ community which is the most vulnerable to the virus.
Data from the 2019 Global AIDS Report show that the population size estimate of men who have sex with men stands at 830,000, with an HIV prevalence of 5 percent, HIV testing and status awareness at 28.4 percent, and condom use at 40.1 percent. In the same study, the population size estimate of transgender stands at 190,000, HIV testing and status awareness at 36.3 percent, and condom use at 40.6 percent.
Durex stresses the importance of the use of protection. Through its No One Way Love All Ways campaign, which emphasizes that there’s really no one way to own one’s sexuality, Durex continues the fight to curb the spread of HIV in the Philippines, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The brand recently donated condoms to the Taguig City Health Office in April, which were then distributed to health centers and made available for the city’s telemedicine program. Durex is also donating P20,000 worth of products to LoveYourself for its National HIV Prevention Month activities this August.
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