Alarmed by the rise in the number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases in the country, the Philippine government has made a commitment to the United Nations to end the epidemic by 2030.
The DOH vowed to improve the health care system that would provide a more accessible means of HIV testing, HIV awareness programs, counseling and anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs for the Filipino people.
“The Philippines gives high priority to HIV in its health agenda, conscious of the urgent need to address this problem in a strategic, inclusive and sustained manner,” Department of Health Secretary Janette Garin said on Friday after attending the UN High Level Meeting on HIV /AIDS held in New York City.
The health secretary added that the country needs the help of local and international partners to finally stop the HIV epidemic – which has breached the UN’s five percent threshold of HIV/AIDS incidence among high-risk groups.
The five percent threshold was breached in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Makati, Mandaue, Parañaque, Puerto Princesa and Quezon City.
In Cebu, the HIV prevalence among high-risk groups reached 14 percent.
In 2009, only one new HIV diagnosis was monitored daily by the DOH. However, the number grew to nine in 2012, 17 in 2014, and 22 last year.
In January 2016 alone, the DOH was able to record 804 new cases of HIV diagnosis which is the highest number in a month since 1984. In February 2016, the DOH recorded 751 new cases, bringing the total number of HIV cases to almost 32,000 in the past 32 years.
Garin said during the UN meeting that one of the plans of the Philippine government to fight the HIV epidemic is by doubling the National HIV Program budget from P300 million in 2015 to P600 million in 2016.