Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Sunday the government and its partners are working double time to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV infections in public and private health facilities nationwide
He said 143 social hygiene clinics nationwide were now offering free HIV counseling, testing and community-based HIV screening while 150 HIV Treatment hubs were providing treatment services.
Duque made his statement even as Rep. Mike Defensor on Sunday raised an alarm over the high incidence of human immunodeficiency virus-related deaths.
He said every 12 hours a young Filipino dies of HIV-related complications, citing a 66 percent surge in deaths.
Every 12 hours, a Filipino―most likely male and between 15 and 34 years old―was dying of severe health complications from HIV, he said.
“The growing number of deaths among Filipinos with HIV is unacceptable, considering the availability of free treatment that can allow them to enjoy almost normal lives, Defensor said.
Meanwhile, the Quezon City government on Sunday raised concern over the reported 505 new human immunodeficiency virus cases from January to July.
Based on a report by the city’s health department, 505 new HIV cases were recorded from January to July this year, of which 486 were male and 19 were female.
In July alone, 77 new HIV cases were tallied, according to Rolando Cruz, head of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and STI/HIV program manager.
Duque said the 2018 UNAIDS Global Report cited the Philippines as having the highest percentage increase (203 percent) in the estimated new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific.
The number of diagnosed HIV cases, he said, had also been increasing from one per day in 2008 to 35 per day as of July 2019.
From January 1984 to July 2019, the regions with the most number of reported cases were the NCR (26,832), CALABARZON (10,431), Central Luzon (6,543), Central Visayas (6,153,) and Davao (3,917). Among those diagnosed, 94 percent (65,079) were male while most of the cases fell under the 25to 34 age bracket.
Duque said his department’s goal was for 90 percent of all PLHIVs to know their status, 90 percent of the diagnosed PLHIVs received anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and 90 percent of all receiving ART were virally suppressed.
“With our existing strategies and our LHIVE FREE campaign, we are optimistic that we can soon curb the increasing number of HIV cases in the country, Duque said.
The LHIVE FREE campaign advocates testing and adherence to treatment of the most at-risk population and further encourages support groups to be part of the PLHIVs journey to wellness.
“Strengthening community support is vital in achieving the [Health department’s] vision of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. Let us show that communities do make a difference, Duque said.
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