Cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) continue to rise in the region, as reported by the HIV & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP), Department of Health.

A total of 26 new HIV/AIDS cases was recorded in October 2018. The said figure is 9 cases higher compared to the cases recorded in November 2017.

From 1984-October 2018, a total of 1,301 cases was recorded. In its most recent data, there have been 267 new HIV/AIDS cases from January-October 2018 alone. The province of Pangasinan still has the highest case (134) while the province of Ilocos Norte recorded the lowest case (38).

The majority of the cases were from males with 253 as opposed to the 14 cases of female for the period January-October 2018.  Sexual contact remains the most prevalent mode of transmission. Of the 1301 cases, 628 is through male to male sex (no female partners). People aged 25-34 has the highest recorded case (685) while those who are less than 15 has the least number of cases (10). People aged 15-24 recorded the second highest HIV/AIDS cases (310).

According to HARP, as many as 32 people in the country are diagnosed with HIV-AIDS every day in 2018. This is a far cry from the 13 cases reported daily in 2013 and 22 in 2015. The Philippines has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world with 59,135 cases recorded from January 1984 to September 2018, with a total of 2,917 reported deaths.

HIV Testing for Minors

With the approval of the Republic Act No. 11166 or the HIV & AIDS Policy Act of 2018, a person aged fifteen (15) or over could now access HIV testing and counseling even without the consent of their parents or legal guardian.

In addition, parents and guardians of minors under 15 who are pregnant or engaged in a high-risk behavior would also not need to give their consent for HIV testing and counselling.

However, consent from parents and guardians is still required in all other cases involving minors, unless they could not be located or if they refuse consent. In such cases, the licensed social worker or health worker would give consent, with the agreement of the minor.

The law also “removes all barriers to HIV and AIDS-related services by eliminating the stigma” on people living with HIV and requires “up-to-date education about HIV and AIDS in schools, communities, workplaces and vulnerable areas.”

Battling the issue

The Commission on Population, through its programs and projects, continues to be an advocate in curbing the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS cases in the region through information dissemination and education on health, responsible sexual behaviour, and effective life skills among adolescents.

The ABCDEs of HIV Prevention is continuously advocated in POPCOM’s programs, especially for the youth.

            A – Abstinence

            B – Be mutually faithful.

            C – Consult an adult.

            D – Don’t smoke, drink, or use illegal drugs.

            E – Early detection and treatment. / Educate yourself.

Moreover, with the integration of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in the curriculum, it is expected that the youth will be more aware and more responsible with their sexual and reproductive health. 

For those willing to be tested, there are 16 HIV testing facilities in the region: 3 in La Union, 2 in Ilocos Sur, 3 in Ilocos Norte, and 8 in Pangasinan.

The Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC) in San Fernando City, La Union, Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, and Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, three of the DOH-designated HIV treatment facilities in the region, are free of charge.

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Contact:          Information Management and Communications Unit-Commission on Population Region 1                                                           

Tel.:                 (072) 607-3334

Email:              popcomro1.imcu@gmail.com

Website:         rpo1.popcom.gov.ph