By Anna Valmero
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA—Last March, the country hit a record of ten new daily cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), prompting the need for a legislation to help prevent and curb the spread of the infection from becoming a full blown epidemic.
A total of 313 Filipinos were diagnosed with HIV last March, contributing to a rise of a total of 799 cases for the first three months of the year—a 65 percent rise from last year's 483 cases in the same quarter.
This alarming number is one of the reasons why the Aquino administration should the certify as urgent the passage of House Bill 5312, a proposed new AIDS Prevention and Control Law.
“The new legislation has become absolutely imperative to effectively suppress the HIV epidemic,” said LPG Marketers’ Association Rep. Arnel Ty.
The bill seeks to earmark P400 million to jumpstart a new National HIV and AIDS Plan.
Essentially, HIV causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a disease that ravages the human body’s immune system does not have any known cure.
Citing National Epidemiology Center data, Ty said the latest cases included 290 males and 23 females, with over half aged between 20 and 29 years old.
The cases recorded on March included 37 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who all acquired the virus via exposed sexual contact, and 31 intravenous drug users who were all infected after sharing tainted needles.
Except for the 31 drug users and two cases of mother-to-child transmission, Ty said all of the new cases were contaminated due to unprotected sexual encounters, with males having sex with other males accounting for 83 percent.
Three full-blown AIDS cases–two males and a one female–died in March, bringing to five the known deaths this year alone, Ty said.
The National HIV and AIDS Registry now lists an aggregate of 9,163 HIV cases in the country, with 91 percent of them or 8,369 cases infected on account of sexual contact.
Ty co-authored the bill together Representatives Maria Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City, Janette Garin of Iloilo, Jorge Banal of Quezon City, and Kaka Bag-ao of Akbayan party list.
Sen. Miriam Santiago recently filed a counterpart bill in the upper house.
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