At least one Filipino is infected with HIV every hour.
This is based on a report by the Department of Health (DOH)’s Epidemiology Bureau Report, which said there were 34,999 cases of HIV in the country as of last June.
The figure is projected to rise as the department is aggressively conducting tests.
The DOH noted that from only one case being diagnosed per day in 2008, the figure rose to four per day in 2010, nine per day in 2012, 17 per day in 2014, and at least 26 per day at present.
This means that in the current trend, at least one Filipino is infected with HIV every hour.
Myths and misconceptions
The Philippines has one of the lowest rates of infection, yet it also has one of the fastest growing number of cases worldwide. One of the reasons for the sharp rise is the fact that HIV and AIDS are still shrouded in myths and misconceptions.
A few years ago a man died of AIDS in Davao City. He and his family had been living in a rented home, and when the landlady found out about his death and what he died of, she immediately evicted his loved ones. For some reason, she was afraid the rest of the family would “spread” HIV to other people.
Today many Filipinos still believe they can get HIV by:
- breathing the same air
- touching a toilet seat or door knob or handle
- drinking from a water fountain
- hugging, kissing, or shaking hands
- sharing eating utensils
- using exercise equipment at a gym
And many more.
The fact is, there are three ways HIV can be transmitted:
- unprotected sexual contact (without use of condoms)
- blood transfusion (including through needle-sharing among injecting drug users)
- mother-to-child transmission (during pregnancy)
Here’s an infographic from the Philippine Red Cross that simplifies the whole thing:
Here are more facts about HIV and AIDS:
- It is important to know that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, does not survive long outside the human body and it cannot reproduce outside a human host.
- HIV attacks and weakens the immune system of a person found positive with it. If that person does not get anti-retroviral treatment (ART), his/her immune system will continue to get weak as he/she is exposed to opportunistic infections.
- HIV is found in blood, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids. Semen and vaginal fluids can be transmitted during unprotected sexual acts. If a person has sexual contact with a person positive with HIV, he/she could get infected, especially if the sexual contact was unprotected.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), it is important that those who suspect or are unsure if they have acquired HIV are tested voluntarily.
Testing can be done in different testing centers in the country, such as hospitals, clinics and other testing hubs being run by the health department and its partners from local government units (LGUs) and other organizations wanting to remove the stigma of getting tested.
Through confidential testing, testing centers help people who discover they are HIV-positive get the necessary anti-retroviral treatment (ART) provided by the government.
ART can help reduce the harmful effects of HIV and prolong the life of a patient so long as he/she follows the advice of doctors and maintains a healthy lifestyle.
The only way for one to know that he/she has HIV is to get tested.
Early testing can lead to proper diagnosis and will thus give patients hope. (From PNA)