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OFWs urged to undergo HIV test




ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III is prodding returning migrant workers to have themselves tested for possible sexually-transmitted diseases amid reports of a significant rise in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in their community.

“We would urge OFWs who believe that they engaged in high-risk sexual behavior in the past to get themselves voluntarily tested for HIV,” Bertiz, a member of the Danilo Suarez-led House Minority Bloc, said in a statement yesterday.

A total of 451 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were newly diagnosed with HIV from January to June this year, up 14.4 percent compared to the 394 listed during the same six-month period in 2017, the lawmaker said.

“All told, OFWs with HIV now account for 10 percent of all cases in the National HIV and AIDS Registry,” Bertiz noted.

Of the 56,275 cases listed in the registry from January 1984 to June 2018, the lawmaker said 5,889 were OFWs.

Early detection and antiretroviral treatment (ART) have been known to slow down the advance of HIV, which is a precursor to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), according to the Department of Health (DoH).

AIDS destroys the human body’s natural ability to fight off all kinds of infections, and the condition still does not have any known cure.

“The DoH has 60 HIV treatment hubs across the country plus 33 primary care facilities that provide outpatient care services to returning OFWs and other citizens living with the virus,” Bertiz said.

As per the DoH, a total of 28,045 Filipinos living with HIV were on record as undergoing ART as of June.

Of the 5,889 OFWs in the National HIV and AIDS Registry, Bertiz said 5,063, or 86 percent, were male with the median age of 32 years.
Majority of the male cases, or 71 percent, were infected through sexual contact among MSM, or men who have sex with men (2,062 from male-to-male sex and 1,529 from sex with both males and females).

The median age of female OFWs in the registry was 34 years.