THE Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines expressed concern over the rising number of HIV/AIDS infections among the youth as the United Nations Children’s Fund warned that new infections among teens may rise from 250,000 in 2015 to nearly 400,000 annually by 2030.
In the Philippines, official figures showed that from 1984 to 2016, about 10,279 of the total number of HIV/AIDS cases were in the 15-24 years-old range.
CBCP’s Commission on Health Care executive secretary Fr. Dan Cansino said that the number of youth cases of 9,066 was reported only in the last five years, and this should raise concern for the government to tag it a “youth epidemic.”
“This is a day for us to increase our knowledge, awareness, consciousness [about HIV/AIDS], especially because of the youth affected now by this global problem of HIV and AIDS,” Cancino said.
“Most of those affected are our youth. Cases are rising among the 15 to 24 year-olds. So they are the future of our country, our high school and college students,” explained the priest.
In an effort to further raise public awareness, the Church is calling on young people to join the celebration of National Catholic AIDS Sunday on December 4.
The prelate expressed the church’s concern as Unicef warned that New infections among teens may rise from 250,000 in 2015 to nearly 400,000 annually by 2030 if progress in reaching adolescents stalls.
“The world has made tremendous progress in the global effort to end AIDS, but the fight is far from over—especially for children and adolescents,” said Unicef executive director Anthony Lake.
“Every two minutes, another adolescent—most likely a girl—will be infected with HIV,” Lake said. “If we want to end AIDS, we need to recapture the urgency this issue deserves—and redouble our efforts to reach every child and every adolescent.”
AIDS remains a leading cause of death among adolescents, claiming the lives of 41,000 adolescents aged 10-19 in 2015, according to the 7th Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS: For Every Child: End AIDS.
Despite progress in averting new infections and reducing deaths, funding for the AIDS response has declined since 2014, Unicef said.
World AIDS Day, observed every year since 1988, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease.
Government and health officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world observe the day, often with education on AIDS prevention and control.
The World Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization, along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day and World Hepatitis Day.