By Carlos H. Conde,

The Philippines’ human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic is a “national emergency,” the head of the AIDS Research Group of the health department’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) said on Monday.

Dr. Rossana Ditangco warned that the government’s current approach to the epidemic means that “we can’t control the rapid rise of HIV infection.”

Ditangco is no fear-monger. The latest statistics from the UNAIDS’ 2017 report indicates the rate of HIV infection in the Philippines has become the highest in the Asia Pacific region. That data demonstrates that in 2016, 83 percent of new infections in the Philippines occurred among men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men. The sharp rise in new HIV infections in the Philippines since 2010 stands in sharp contrast to decreasing or stagnant rates of new infections in other parts of the Asia-Pacific region. Philippine Department of Health data indicates that the country’s HIV infection rate grewby 140 percent from 2010 to 2016, with two out of three new HIV infections among 15 to 24-year-old men who have sex with men.

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Thumbnail: Flickr CC Talk Pinas