‘National emergency’: Philippines urged to address HIV epidemic

The UNAIDS report showed a 140-percent increase in new infections in the Philippines. Also alarming was the low rate of correct knowledge on HIV transmission and prevention among the key at-risk population. File
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MANILA, Philippines — Human Rights Watch has called on the Philippine government to implement low-cost interventions after a 2017 UNAIDS report found that the country has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia-Pacific.

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The UNAIDS report showed a 140-percent increase in new infections in the Philippines from an estimated 4,300 cases in 2010 to an estimated 10,500 in 2016. The Philippines is one of eight countries that account for more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the region.
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Dr. Rossana Ditangco, head of the AIDS Research Group of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, called the epidemic a “national emergency.” She also warned that the government’s current approach to the epidemic means that “we can’t control the rapid rise of HIV infection.”
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Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said addressing the country’s HIV epidemic is “one of the top health priorities.” She also said there are plans to increase funding for antiretroviral treatment and to “scale up” the Health department’s community-based HIV screening by promoting testing and other services such as risk-reduction and HIV awareness counseling in areas with high numbers of new infections.
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The HRW, however, slammed the continued delay in the “roll-out of proven low-tech and low-cost interventions” like condoms that could stem the spread of the virus.
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In 2016, 83 percent of newly reported HIV cases occurred among males who have sex with males (MSM) and transgender women who have sex with males (TGW). Majority of new infections were among 15- to 24-year-old MSM and TGW.
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Alarming, however, was the low rate of correct knowledge on HIV transmission and prevention among the key at-risk population. The UNAIDS found that in 2015 only 35 percent of 15- to 24-year-old MSM and TGW know how the virus is transmitted and prevented.
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Although the percentage of MSM and TGW who knew their HIV status by getting tested increased from 5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015, this remains low.
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“[I]t should immediately implement the recommendations from a recent Human Rights Watch report and remove current official obstacles to condom access and usage as well as ensure that schools include safer sex and HIV prevention education in the curriculum,” the New York-based group said in a dispatch Wednesday.
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“The Philippines government needs to demonstrate it’s finally willing to adequately address it.” — Mikas 
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One Response to “‘National emergency’: Philippines urged to address HIV epidemic”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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