As reported by the UN, the Philippines has the highest number of HIV infections in Southeast Asia.
From 2010 to 2016, it saw a 140 percent increase in cases, despite the declining percentage of a yearly number of new infections in Asia.
The director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team, Eamonn Murphy, stated that the country has a small opportunity to act and stop an HIV epidemic. Eamonn added that the government has to focus on how to reduce that number and increase anti-HIV efforts on patients who are at high risk.
According to the Philippine Health department’s epidemiology bureau, Genesis Samonte, eight out of 10 HIV cases were men having sex with other men or MSM.
These risky behaviors start very young. The MSM group of people began to have sex at a very young age of 16.
They had anal sex when they were 17 before they started using condoms or underwent HIV tests. Thus, the risk of infection is high.
Unfortunately, only 35 percent of them have knowledge on the transmission and prevention of HIV. The rise of Internet use and cell phones allowed young people to engage with multiple partners, thereby, increasing the risk of contracting such virus.
The number of cases will continue to increase if the country won’t invest in the prevention and treatment of HIV.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said that HIV is a priority of the government. In fact, she stated that the budget for it increased sharply. Her department aimed to reverse the said trend in five years.
The government directs its services to transgender women and MSM group of people. It’s also opening clinics in areas where there are bulk cases of HIV.