DOH: 37 OFWs diagnosed with HIV in March
The Department of Health (DOH) said 37 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the Philippines in March.
In its report, the DOH said 37 cases represented 12 percent of the 313 reported new HIV cases among Filipinos.
The 37 patients included 31 males and six females. Their ages ranged from 20 to 56 years old.
"All acquired the infection through sexual contact (17 heterosexual, 13 homosexual, and seven bisexual).
According to the health website MedlinePlus, HIV "kills or damages the body's immune system cells" while AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is "the most advanced stage of infection with HIV."
Average of 10 new HIV cases daily
The DOH said a new high daily average of 10 new HIV cases were reported in March.
Rep. Arnel Ty, of the sectoral party LPG Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) and an advocate of AIDS prevention, said the 313 new HIV infections spotted in March were the highest-ever in a month, and surpassed the previous record of 274 detected in February.
In a news release on Wednesday, Ty said the new cases jacked up to 799 the cumulative number of HIV infections discovered from January to March this year, up 65 percent compared to the 483 reported over the same quarter in 2011.
The lawmaker urged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III “to certify as urgent” the proposed new AIDS Prevention and Control Law, or House Bill 5312.
“The new legislation has become absolutely imperative to effectively suppress the HIV epidemic,” Ty said.
The bill seeks to earmark P400 million to jumpstart a new National HIV and AIDS Plan that has definite strategies, operating guidelines, and targets.
Together with Representatives Maria Isabelle Climaco (Zamboanga City), Janette Garin (Iloilo), Jorge Banal (Quezon City), and Kaka Bag-ao (Akbayan), Ty introduced the bill last year.
Sen. Miriam Santiago recently filed a counterpart bill in the Senate.
The National HIV and AIDS Registry now lists an aggregate of 9,163 cases, with 91 percent of them (or 8,369) infected on account of sexual contact. - VVP, GMA News