- News in Photo
A human rights watchdog said the Philippines is facing one of the fastest growing epidemics of HIV in the Asia-Pacific, fueled by government policies that restrict intervention, including access to condoms by men who have sex with men.
Human Rights Watch said in a report released yesterday that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men has increased tenfold in the last five years, but the government has failed to adequately target prevention measures on that population.
It said HIV prevention education in Philippine schools is woefully inadequate, commercial marketing of condoms is nonexistent, and barriers to condom access and HIV testing – particularly those below 18 who are required by law to have parental consent – have contributed to the worsening epidemic.
The report said the problems found in national and local government policies are compounded by longstanding resistance of the Roman Catholic Church to contraceptives. More than 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic.
Peter Mosende, a country officer of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS or UNAIDS, said the Philippines has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the Asia-Pacific region, with new cases increasing by more than 100 percent from 2001 to 2015.
The Department of Health said it recorded 38,114 cases of HIV from January 1984 to October 2016 – less than one percent of a population of more than 100 million. But the rate of increase has been alarming, with 32,099 of the cases recorded from 2011 to 2016. Officials estimate there could 55,000 cases by the end of 2016. (AP)