MANILA - As World AIDS Day is marked today, the Department of Health (DOH) has reported close to 500 new HIV/AIDS cases last October, the highest ever recorded in a month in the country.
Based on the DOH’s Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry, there were 491 HIV/AIDS cases in October 2013, or 66 percent higher than the 295 cases in October 2012.
Of this figure, 38 were already AIDS at the time of reporting while 151 belonged to 15-24 age group and one was below 15 years old. A total of 461 of them were males.
The modes of transmission were sexual contact (445), needle sharing among injecting drug users (45), and mother-to-child transmission (one).
Males having sex with other males (MSM) were the predominant type of sexual transmission, accounting for 86 percent.
The 491 new cases brought to 4,072 the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country this year and to 15,774 cases since the registry started in 1984.
For 2013, a total of 272 of the 4,072 cases were AIDS while 1,146 were aged 15 to 24. One was below 15 while 3,874 were males.
Ninety-four percent or 3,848 of them were infected through sex, with homosexual contact accounting for 1,966 of them; followed by bisexual contact with 1,2799 and heterosexual with 598.
Injecting drug use accounted for 226 cases while three were through mother-to-child transmission.
Of the 15,774 cases since 1984, a total of 6,541 got infected through homosexual contact; followed by bisexual contact (4,153), and heterosexual contact (3,954).
The registry showed that 666 of the cases have acquired the AIDS virus through injecting drug use while 30 were through blood transfusion; three through needle prick injury; and 62 through mother-to-child.
Meanwhile, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), in a statement issued in observance of today’s World AIDS Day, said the world can now “see an end to an epidemic that has wrought such staggering devastation around the world.”
“For the first time we can say that we are beginning to control the epidemic and not that the epidemic is controlling us,” said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe.
Sidibe added that “progress is clear in the scientific breakthroughs, visionary leadership and precision programming.”
“The combination of these powerful factors means that people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives, can now protect their partners from becoming infected with the virus, and can keep their children free from HIV,” he said.
He, however, said, “Stigma, denial and complacency are still among us, putting us in danger of failing the next generation. We must join our hearts and our voices – together we are stronger.
“The world is poised to end AIDS and if we stay true to our vision we will remember this as the day that lifelong dreams began to transform into reality,” Sidibe added.
UNAIDS records show that since the start of the epidemic, there were 75 million people infected with HIV. In 2012, the number of cases reached 35.3 million.
But new HIV infections have fallen by 33 percent since 2001.
“Worldwide, 2.3 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2012, down from 3.4 million in 2001,” a UNAIDS fact sheet states.
The new cases among adults and adolescents have gone down by 50 percent or more in 26 countries between 2001 and 2012 while new infections among children also decreased by 52 percent since 2001.
Worldwide, 260,000 children became newly infected with HIV in 2012, down from 550,000 in 2001.
“AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 30 percent since the peak in 2005. In 2012, 1.6 million people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide compared to 2.3 million in 2005,” UNAIDS records state.
Since the start of the epidemic, an estimated 36 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses.