PALO, LEYTE – The Department of Health (DOH) recorded 11 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in Eastern Visayas, way below the national average, but the agency expressed alarm at the increasing number of people who are getting infected, especially the younger generation.

Latest data released by the DOH’s epidemiology bureau shows that the 11 cases recorded in the region comprise less than one percent of the 1,292 cases recorded all over the country for the said month. Eastern Visayas is the second among regions with the least number of cases next only to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which had eight cases.

The love month this year also logged the highest average cases per day with 47 new cases recorded daily nationwide, way above the average of 42 new cases daily in 2022 and 34 daily average in 2021.

The Philippines has already recorded a total of 112,028 HIV cases since the first infection was logged in 1984.

Of the 1,292 new cases, 1,018 of them were between 15 to 34 years old – the age bracket for middle schoolers and young professionals. Two children – one as young as two years-old – acquired infection through mother-to-child transmission, while six pregnant women were tested positive of HIV.

The DOH also reported that of these new cases, 337 were already in the advanced stage of HIV infection when they were detected. The month also saw the death of 44 individuals who had HIV.

Of the 1,292 cases reported in this period, 1,236 were male and 56 were female with 1,277 acquiring the infection through sexual contact. Some 907 of the males found positive of the virus had a reported history of having sex with another male.

DOH also reported that among the new cases were 70 overseas Filipino workers – 65 male and five female – who had worked overseas in the last five years. All the 70 individuals acquired HIV through sexual contact.

Among the different regions in the country, the National Capital Region reported the highest number of new cases with 294, Calabarzon with 253, Central Luzon with 133, Davao Region with 84 and Central Visayas with 80. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail April 3-9, 2023 issue)