The Philippines is in the news. The Total amount of HIV cases in the country has increased 85% in the last three years to a little over 11,000.
I think we're not at a crisis stage, is spite of AP's reporting. Yes its a health issue, and WHO is going to face a problem. This is heavily Catholic country, which takes the teachings of catholicism seriously. Condoms and birth control are not common practices in this country. My wife would never think of using them, and she's not typical for a Filipina. It will be interesting to see where these statistics go in the future.
Open Post- Third World County, Right Wing Nation, Adam's Blog, TMH's Bacon Bits, Cao's Blog,
MANILA (AFP) - An AIDS crisis threatens the Philippines as the number of people who are HIV carriers has doubled in just over three years, the health department warned.
A health department study projected the number of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) carriers to have risen to 11,168, from about 6,000 in 2002, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told reporters.
The widespread practice of unprotected sex makes AIDS a serious threat in the Southeast Asian country, he added.
Many people who are likely living with the virus are mixing with the general population and are unaware that they are infected, Duque said.
Men who have sex with other men, female sex workers, their male clients, and injecting drug users are the groups most at risk, Duque said.
However, these groups account for only 2,942 of the total HIV carriers estimated in the Philippines, said health department epidemiologist Enrique Tayag.
"A significant change in this estimation is that 8,000 of these HIV positives are now found in the general population. This means that current interventions miss a hidden population that would benefit and thus avert a major catastrophe," Duque said.
In the health department survey, one percent of injecting drug users in Cebu, the country's number-two city, are HIV-positive, Duque said.
"For the first time after nearly a decade of surveillance, another IDU (injecting drug user) has tested positive. This means that the transmission among IDUs has begun and, if left unchecked, will cause the repetition of an epidemic similar to that of Thailand," Duque warned.
World Health Organization country representative John Marc Olive said the discovery of HIV-positive injecting drug users should serve as a "red flag" for the Philippines taking into consideration Thailand's experience when those infected by the virus transmitted HIV by sharing needles.
Duque said many injecting drug users had multiple sex partners, did not practice safe sex, and shared needles.
Duque said the government had set aside 20 million pesos (383,000 dollars) to stockpile anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS sufferers. The virus destroys the human body's immune system.
"It's a dilemma for the (health department) to have to manage opposition from the (Roman) Catholic Church because it views condoms also as a family planning method and not just a tool against HIV/AIDS," Duque said.
He urged the church to allow the government to promote condom use among the faithful in this mainly Catholic country.