HIV Reports say Philippines faces epidemic

HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men has increased tenfold in the last five years.

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A nurse (L) hands out a red ribbon to a woman, to mark World Aids Day, at the entrance of Emilio Ribas Hospital, in Sao Paulo December 1, 2014. REUTERS/Nacho Doce play A nurse (L) hands out a red ribbon to a woman, to mark World Aids Day, at the entrance of Emilio Ribas Hospital, in Sao Paulo December 1, 2014. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
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The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is spreading quickly in the Philippines and the country faces an epidemic, a report released on Thursday by Human Rights Watch, a Non-Governmental Organisation headquartered in New York said.

The report stated that “the Philippines is facing one of the fastest-growing epidemics in the Asia-Pacific region.”

According to official statistics, HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men has increased tenfold in the last five years.

Overall HIV prevalence rate in Cebu City of the Philippines was 15 per cent in 2015, tripling the figure for sub-Saharan Africa that suffers the most serious HIV epidemic in the world.

The human rights watchdog gave credit to the Philippine government in preventing HIV transmission among commercial sex workers in the 1990s, but said it failed to prevent HIV infection in other risk groups.

Human Rights Watch listed limited condom access, insufficient education and few public access to HIV testing, as well as the influence of the Catholic Church on government, as several reasons leading to the current epidemic.

It said that solution would be by removing legal and policy obstacles to condom access and remedying the dangerous deficit in public awareness of safer sex and HIV prevention methods.

“The Philippine government would have the opportunity to stop a growing health crisis in its tracks,’’ the report said. 

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