PALO, LEYTE – Eastern Visayas logged 23 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the month of May, the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH) reported on July 4.

The 23 new HIV cases in the region are less than half compared to the 60 cases recorded in April 2023, which was the highest number of cases in a single month since the first case in the country was detected in 1984.

DOH data shows 1,256 cases of HIV were reported in May in the whole country or an average of 48 cases of infection a day. Of these total number of cases, 1,186 are male and 70 are female and 323 of these cases were found to be in the advanced stage of the disease. The same month also saw the death of 132 individuals infected with the virus.

Among the regions, Eastern Visayas ranked fourth with the least number of cases next only to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with nine cases, Cordillera Autonomous Region with 10 and Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) with 21 cases.

In April, Eastern Visayas’ 60 recorded HIV cases was the sixth highest among regions, together with Central Visayas, in the country next only to the National Capital Region (270 cases), Southern Tagalog (265), Central Luzon (130), Davao Region (96), and Western Visayas (74).

The DOH report said 97 percent of the infections were acquired through sexual contact wherein 70 percent of the males reported a history of sex with another male while 14 percent were male who only had sexual contact with a female.

The report added that 40 new HIV patients acquired the infection through sharing of infected needles while 28 infants were infected through mother-to-child transmission. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail July 3-9, 2023 issue)