MANILA -- Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday expressed alarm after the Department of Health (DOH) reported that 86 cases of HIV infection among children and adolescents, or those aged 19 and below, were recorded for the month of January.
"Ang nakababahalang balitang ito ay kinakailangan ng mas maigting na pakikipag-ugnayan ng DOH sa iba't ibang ahensya ng gobyerno at mga lokal na pamahalaan para ikalat nang husto ang kaalaman tungkol sa sakit at kung paano maiwasan ito," said Gatchalian, chairperson of Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Gatchalian said he will pursue a Senate inquiry on HIV infections among youth.
According to the DOH report last Monday, almost all of the reported adolescent cases acquired HIV through sexual contact, except one case with no data on the mode of transmission.
To highlight the urgency of issue, Gatchalian cited the findings of the University of the Philippines Population Institute's (UPPI) 2021 Young Adult and Fertility Sexuality Survey (YAFSS), which revealed that youth awareness of HIV and acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (AIDS) dropped to 78 percent in 2021.
Gatchalian then urged the DOH and the Department of Education (DepEd) to step up efforts on raising the youth's awareness on HIV.
"Nais nating tiyakin na sapat ang kaalaman ng ating mga kabataan pagdating sa HIV, lalo na't maaaring magdulot ito ng pinsala sa kanilang kalusugan at kapakanan. Susuriin natin kung paano natuturuan ang ating mga kabataan upang pangalagaan ang kanilang mga kalusugan," said Gatchalian.
Since the first reported HIV infection in the country in 1984, there have been 110,736 confirmed HIV cases and 6,383 reported deaths recorded to the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP).