Who is Most at Risk?
In 2019, The Department of Health (DOH) stated that young men, in particular, are becoming victims of this infection. This was during a solidarity conference in Quezon City.
Mary Joy Morin, Central Office National AID, and STI Prevention and Control Program Officer, reported that the most common means of transmission was through sexual contact. She mentioned that there have been 65,463 cases recorded between 1984 to March 2019.
The United Nations Organisation (UNO) recorded 13,384 new HIV cases in 2018. According to UNAIDS, this translates to a 203% hike compared to what was recorded in 2010. UNAIDS estimates the number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) at 77,000. Among this number, just 62,000 know their status.
39% of PLHIV are in the National Capital Region (NCR), making it the region with the highest PLHIV population.
Among PLHIV, 80% are millennials. Over 19,000 people between 15 and 24 years are HIV positive.
The HIV+ are Getting Younger and Younger
Among those 25 to 34, the number of HIV cases rises to 34,500. This shows that our epidemic demographics are progressively getting younger. This prompted UNAIDS to call for a revision of the old AIDS law.
A major change in the law is the lower age of consent for HIV testing —15—year—olds can now undergo HIV testing without parental consent.
Before this, UNICEF and its partners in 2016 devised a way around the old AIDS law. They fought for the proxy consent protocol for HIV testing. Through pilot programs in cities, more than 5,000 adolescents were tested through proxy consent.
The protocol was later approved by government agencies, including the DOH, the National Youth Commission (NYC), and the Council for the Welfare of Children. The current status of HIV in the Philippine disproportionately affecting the young could be identified thanks to this intervention. For example, in Iloilo City, 4 out of the 135 minors tested between 2016 and 2018 were HIV positive.
Opposition to HIV Prevention and Education
In January 2017, DOH proposed that schools should be made access points for students to get free condoms and counseling. This proposal was however shot down by serious opposition from conservative groups and parents.