The incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the Philippines is alarming if we are to base on the statistics and information coming from the Department of Health (DOH). The department recently confirmed a 140 percent growth of HIV infection rate from 2010 to 2016. It said the new cases were reported in May this year at 1,098 that accounted 48 percent higher compared to the 741 cases in same month last year. DOH said it was the highest based on the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. DOH documented a total of 44,000 HIV/AID cases in May last year covering the period from 2008 to 2016 or 29 new cases daily. Also revealing is, most of the cases involved men having sex with men or MSM that accounted for 85 percent while the rest are sex workers and drug injections.
These figures were actually the basis of the committee on health at the House of Representatives to approve a bill entitled Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act aimed at curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country with certain provisions like the strengthening of the Philippine National AIDS Council by making it as the central policy and planning making body on programs to fight HIV/AIDS. The bill also provides penalties for those who discriminate persons with HIV/AIDS including those who committed human rights violations against infected persons and those infected but knowingly cause to infect another person. HIV/AIDS is a unique virus infection because the immune system keeps on deteriorating leading the infected person to become vulnerable to all kinds of sickness until the body succumbs to death.
The bill is significant and in-fact long overdue. Based on the DOH report, the number of cases reached tens of thousands already since 2008 and even more if to include those unreported cases. The magnitude of the rate of incidence goes to show, government’s attention and intervention is called for. But it’s not the government’s sole responsibility, the public has to do its part. Education, extra-care and discipline on intimacy are basic necessities to shun from the deadly virus. It is hoped the bill will get the nod of the Senate without hitches and finally, the President to bring down the growing rate of the infection.