Youth HIV infection in the Philippines up 47 per cent since 2019

MANILA, Dec 3 (Bernama): The number of youth aged 15 to 17 who tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the Philippines increased by 47 per cent from 2019 to 2022 compared to 2018, according to the Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) data.

Of the 44,583 reported HIV cases from 2019 to 2022, the data showed that 450, or 1 per cent, were aged 15 to 17, and 1,594, or 4 per cent, were aged 18 to 19, reported Xinhua.

The ratification of a Philippine law that allows the HIV testing of 15-year-olds without a parent or guardian's consent helped widen the government's access to the youth.

HIV has continued to be a serious health threat in the Philippines for 38 years since the infectious disease emerged in the Southeast Asian country in January 1984. Currently, the latest DOH data shows 107,177 cases since 1984.

"The ongoing HIV and AIDS epidemic in the country remains one of the long-standing issues requiring concerted action from all sectors of society," DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the DOH said the Philippines has the fastest-growing HIV cases, with a 237-per cent increase in annual new HIV infections from 2010 to 2021. In the same period, AIDS-related deaths have jumped by 315 per cent.

Over 90 per cent of cases tallied from 1984 were reported in the past 10 years, showing a significant rise among reported cases compared to the previous 10-year period or 2002 to 2011. Among the age groups, the data showed the highest increase in cases from 2012 to 2022 among 25 to 34 years old, followed by those aged 15 to 24.

Experts warned that if the current efforts in HIV response are maintained, the estimated number of HIV patients in the Philippines could reach 364,000 by 2030, which is a two-fold increase from estimated HIV patients by the end of 2022.

Globally, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said that 38.4 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2021. A recent UNAIDS report said young people aged 15 to 24 accounted for 26 per cent of the new cases. In some countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Thailand, more than 40 per cent of new infections were among youth.

Strikingly, the report said that in the 15 to 24 age group, 99 per cent of new infections regionally were among people from key populations and their partners. - Bernama

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Philippines , youth , HIV infection


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