By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

(File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) is mulling to provide human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) services at primary healthcare facilities as 3,410 new cases, with 82 reported deaths were recorded from January to March 2024.

Data from the HIV & AIDS and antiretroviral therapy (ART) Registry of the Philippines (HARP) showed that from 1984 to March 2024, there were 129,772 cumulative diagnosed HIV cases.

“Seeking help at general primary care facilities linked to and coordinating with HIV treatment hubs can make a significant difference in managing the disease and improving the quality of life for people living with and affected by HIV,” Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said in a statement Friday.

The AIDS Epidemic Model (AEM) and Spectrum suggests a continued rise, with HIV new infections expected to reach 36,700 by 2030 given the current conditions.

The projected number of Filipinos living with HIV may increase significantly by 2030 — from an estimated 215,400 in 2024 to 401,700 — if services for HIV/AIDS prevention in general and PLHIV support continue to lack improvement.

“The data we have shows the way for what we do. Better health literacy including age- and culture-appropriate information and commodities for safe sex, routine HIV testing at primary care, and early access to antiretrovirals are clear directions to take,” Herbosa said.

A “concentrated epidemic” among key and vulnerable populations was also observed.

Of the total cases, 82 percent were males having sex with males (MSM); 2 percent were people who inject drugs; 0.2 percent were females engaging in transactional sex; and 0.3 percent were children.

About 89 percent of the new infections occurred among MSM, with 47 percent of the new infections from the youth ages 15 to 24.

The National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Region 4-A (Calabarzon), Western Visayas, and Central Visayas comprised 74 percent of the total cases.

Among the 122,255 diagnosed HIV cases who are still alive, only 64 percent or 78,633 are currently on ART.

In March 2024, there were 1,224 new cases with 12 reported deaths. The ages of these cases ranged from less than 1 to 55, with a median age of 28 years.

Close to half or 46 percent of the new cases for March 2024 were aged 25 to 34, while almost a third or 31 percent were among the youth ages 15 to 24.

The Philippines is still one of the countries with the fastest increasing numbers of HIV cases in the Asia Pacific Region. (PNA)