WHO Alarmed by HIV Hike Among Gay Men in PH, Asia

Published: November 30, 2012

Dec. 01–The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday expressed alarm over the rise of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among men who have sex with men and transgender people in Asia, which includes the Philippines.

The WHO-Western Pacific, in a statement commemorating the World AIDS Day calling the governments to do more plans, programs and actions to combat the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men and transgender people.

"We need to strengthen our programs to ensure that these key populations receive the

support they need to protect themselves," said Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.

"We need to scale up and improve sustained, comprehensive, effective and stigma-free HIV prevention efforts focusing on and working with men who have sex with men and transgender people," he added.

According to the latest data of the Department of Health from January to September 2012, 2,466 HIV positive cases were confirmed in the country or a total of 10,830 cases since it was first recorded in 1984.

The Health department echoed the WHO report, saying that the reported mode of HIV transmission of all the cases in the Philippines were of males having sex with males.

"Males having sex with other males were the predominant type of sexual transmission through heterosexual contact, followed by homosexual contact then bisexual contact," the Health department said.

It added that other cases were gained through needle sharing among injected drug users, mother to child and to blood transfusion.

The Health department also said that since 1984 the department has recorded 353 deaths because of AIDS and 11 of it happened in 2012.

The HIV leads to AIDS eventually, and the latter is attacked and damaged the immune systems, which causes the death of a person.

The Health department repeatedly warned that HIV/AIDS cases would balloon to 45,000 in 2015 because of continued unsafe sex practices of Filipinos.

Moreover, with a theme World AIDS Day 2012 is: "Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections.

Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths," the WHO said that HIV prevention coverage remains inadequate for men who have sex with men.

It said that in Asia there is low coverage in the Philippines and Vietnam at only 25 percent.

"HIV infection among men who have sex with men across the region continues to grow. This requires governments to re-assess the effectiveness and quality of existing interventions," it said.

The WHO, citing the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS 2012 Global Report, said that the HIV epidemics in Asia and in the Pacific, remain largely concentrated among people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men and sex workers, saying that low-risk women are increasingly becoming affected.

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