The Philippines is among the top countries in the Asia Pacific where cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections have rebounded in the last year, according to global AIDS-prevention watchdog UNAIDS.
While cases of HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have been declining in several countries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines have been reported to have a rebound of cases, with key populations in the youth between ages 15 and 24 being the most vulnerable.
“To end the AIDS epidemic, we must significantly slow the stream of new infections. If we do not take decisive action, we are at risk of seeing a reversal of prevention gains,” said UNAIDS Asia Pacific Regional Director Eamonn Murphy in a press release.
The slow progress in the prevention of the disease is attributed to the lack of full-scale HIV-prevention services as needed by key populations, including the young, and barriers presented by laws, stigma, and discrimination, according to the report by UNAIDS.
“Key priorities for the AIDS response in Asia and the Pacific include modernizing and scaling up HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care services; leveraging innovative solutions such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and virtual interventions; removing barriers to access services; prioritizing key populations; pursuing equitable and sustainable HIV financing; implementing legal and policy reforms to create a more enabling environment, reducing stigma and discrimination and empowering community leadership,” Murphy added.
Harry Prabowo, Programme Manager of the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV also urged governments to support the key populations within their countries into recovering from AIDS.
The cases of HIV are projected to reach about 364,000 by 2030, according to the Department of Health (DOH). About 39 million people around the world live with HIV as recorded by UNAIDS in the previous year.
A total of 112,028 cases were recorded from 1984 to February 2023 by the Department of Health.
Noel Palaypayon, unit head and supervising health program officer of the National HIV and STI Surveillance and Strategic Information Unit of the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau, said in an interview with Manila Bulletin that the average of newly diagnosed cases per day has spiked from nine in 2012 to 47 in 2023.
The organization also reported that around 140,000 adults and children are living with HIV in the Philippines, 9,000 of which are women aged fifteen and above, while men of the same demographic stand at 130,000. Around 1,100 adults died of HIV in 2021.