HIV now an epidemic among young Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines - The National Youth Commission (NYC) has disclosed that young Filipinos aged 15 to 24 comprised 62% of all new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnoses in the Philippines.

HIV now an epidemic among young Filipinos
Filipino youth make up majority of new HIV cases in the Philippines. Image courtesy of Philstar
NYC Chairperson Aiza Seguerra made the shocking announcement on Saturday, November 26.

According to Seguerra, HIV/AIDS is one the most urgent issues facing the Pinoy youth today. Out of the 29 new HIV infections reported in the country daily, about 19 come from the youth sector.

“HIV is preventable. We need to empower our young people with proper information and develop their life skills. Unprotected sex is the main driver of this epidemic. We have to enable the youth to make responsible decisions,” Seguerra said.

The NYC, in partnership with the DOH and the Department of Education (DepEd), will lead the development of an HIV information campaign which aims to create awareness among young people. The campaign also intends to correct HIV myths and misconceptions that have put the youth at risk.

Previously, the HIV epidemic, which was first reported in the country in 1984, has been described as “low and slow” as less than 1% of the general population were affected by the deadly virus.

But in 2010, new cases of HIV infections started to surge. From 2010 to 2015, there were 20,000 new HIV infections reported in the country. This figure is more than the total number of reported HIV cases in the country from 1984 to the early 2000’s.

Among those most at risk to the infection are men who have sex with men (MSM), freelance sex workers and people who inject drugs.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) identified cities that could reach uncontrollable levels: Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan, Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.

Senate Committee on Health head Risa Hontiveros earlier passed the Philippine HIV-AIDS Policy Act. The said Senate bill aims to allow HIV testing among young people aged 15 to 17 without the need for parental consent.

"Early diagnosis leads to early treatment and saves lives. Prevention, early detection and treatment must be made available by the government. No one deserves a death sentence,” Hontiveros said.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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