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Philippines HIV cases rapidly rising

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The United Nations reports that the Philippines is home to the fastest growing rate of HIV/AIDS in all of the Asia-Pacific.

The country’s own Secretary of Health, Paulyn Ubial, has cited UN data (from UNAIDS) during a recent media conference in a bid to encourage more Filipinos to use condoms during sex and to volunteer for HIV testing.

In the past six years the Philippines has recorded a 140 per cent increase in new HIV/AIDS infections.

A total of 10,500 Filipinos were infected with HIV at the end of last year, with most new infections detected among young men.

This rate is a jump from the 4,300 cases recorded in 2010.

In May this year there were 1,098 new instances of HIV infections detected in the Philippines, which is the highest number of cases since 1984 when infections were first reported.

UNAIDS regional support team director for Asia-Pacific, Eamonn Murphy, said the Philippines could avert the growing the health threat and all but wipe it out by 2030 if the Filipino Government focussed its attention and resources on the people and locations in the country most at risk.

Eighty-three per cent of new HIV cases occurred among males who have sex with males and transgender women who have sex with males.

Two out of three new HIV infections are among 15 to 24 year-old Filipino men, who reportedly have little awareness of HIV, including its symptoms and treatment.

CHRIS JOHNSON

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