CASES OF Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the country takes an unprecedented new high with 41 individuals being tested positive of infection daily.

Latest data from the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH) showed an increase to 41 the average cases per day from January to July 2022, which is, accordingly, higher than the 33 cases a day over the same period in 2021. This is also higher, the Bureau said, from the 39 average daily cases reported from January to May this year.

The Bureau further reported that in July 2022, a total of 1,346 confirmed HIV-positive individuals were reported to the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) bringing to 103,112 the total number of cases in the country since January 1984.

ART stands for antiretroviral therapy, an HIV treatment that involves taking a combination of HIV medicines.

Accordingly, the National Capital Region (NCR) recorded the highest number of new cases with 382, Region 4-A with 265, Central Luzon with 143, Western Visayas with 106, and Central Visayas with 99. The five regions account for 74 percent of the total number of cases in the country for the said month of July 2022.

Further, of the newly reported cases, 399 or three in every 10 were already in the advanced stage of HIV infection – 217 were based on immunologic criterion while 182 were based on a clinical criteria. The registry also shows 70 deaths bringing to 318 the total deaths among infected individuals this year.

The health department also reported that 95 percent of the new cases or 1,273 were male while 73 were female. Of the total reported cases, 1,307 or 97 percent were transmitted through sexual contact – 913 of them involving male-to-male sex, 242 through sex with male and female while 84 cases were male to female sex. In addition, seven individuals acquired the infection through sharing of infected needles, four were through mother-to-child transmission while some 28 cases did not indicate the mode of transmission of infection.

But what is alarming, too, from the latest data the Bureau shared is the increasing number of children and adolescents who are getting infected with the virus, adding that in July 2022, 77 of the newly reported cases were individuals aged 19 and below – 71 of them were adolescents aged 10-19 years old while six were children less than 10 years old.

The data further explained that among the adolescents, 67 acquired the infection through sexual contact – 52 through male-to-male sex, eight through sex with males and females, seven through male-female sex and four with no data on the mode of transmission. On the other hand, among the six children who were newly diagnosed with HIV, four were transmitted through mother-to-child and two with no data on the mode of transmission. The newly diagnosed children were three to eight years old. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail September 5-11, 2022 issue)