Philippines sees fastest HIV growth in Asia-Pacific
The Philippines has become the country with the fastest growing HIV rate in the Asia-Pacific region.
This is according to Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial who spoke at a news conference on Tuesday, citing a report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
According to the report, HIV cases in the Philippines rose from 4,300 in 2010 to 10,500 in 2016.
"The Philippines … has become one of eight countries that account for more than 85% of new HIV infections in the region," local broadcaster Rappler quoted Ubial as saying.
Ubial added that in 85 percent of newly reported cases the infection was contracted by males who have sex with males; two out of three cases occurred among the 15-to-24-year-old age group.
The country's health department expressed fears that HIV is threatening a younger generation of Filipinos who have no knowledge of the disease, its symptoms, treatment or transmission.
Ubial noted the importance of getting tested for HIV and getting the necessary treatment.
Dr. Rossana Ditangco, head of the AIDS Research Group of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, in a recent statement said that it was time the government pursued an aggressive "treat all" campaign.
"I don't have high hopes anymore. We can't control the rapid rise of HIV infection," she said. "It is time the government has to treat HIV as a national emergency."
Almost 1,100 cases of HIV infection among Filipinos were reported in May according to the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines, the highest recorded number of cases since the illness was first reported in the country in 1984.