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Experts say HIV/AIDS is about risky behavior, not sexuality

BAGUIO CITY, March 24 (PIA) - More than half of reported modes of human immunodeficiency virus or HIV transmission in 2014 is through homosexual contact, latest data from the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health show. Health authorities, however, are emphasizing that this data is indicative of risky behavior, not sexuality.

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee in Population and Development (PLCPD) recently held a media briefing dubbed “Break barriers, end the trend: Addressing the HIV epidemic in the Philippines” with representatives from the Department of Health-Cordillera, UNAIDS Philippines, PLCPD, and a person living with HIV (PLHIV) to give status updates on the HIV epidemic in the Philippines and CAR, challenges and best practices in addressing HIV, legislative updates on HIV, and personal reflections on being a PLHIV.

In 2014, there were 6,011 total cases of HIV in the country reported to the HIV and AIDS Registry, making the reported cases from 1984-2014 to a total of 22,527.

Most of the reported HIV cases were male at 95 percent. Reported modes of transmission were sexual contact at 5,649 for the same period, with males having sex with other males (MSM) as the predominant type of transmission at 2,928 or 52 percent. Bisexual contact is the second most common mode of transmission with 1,861 recorded cases and heterosexual contact with 860 cases.

A similar trend is also apparent in the Cordillera region, as data presented by Dr. Julius Cesar Alcala of DOH-CAR show. Of the 41 recorded cases in the entire region from January to December 2014, 18 of those cases were recorded under homosexual mode of transmission. Bisexual contact is also the second most common mode of transmission with 13 recorded cases and heterosexual contact with 10 cases.

Though statistics shows that HIV is prevalent among males and commonly transmitted through homosexual contact, UNAIDS Philippines Country Director Bai Bagasao clarified that “We have to understand that transmission happens because of behavior and has nothing to do with sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Alcala expressed similar views, saying the “fast and furious” epidemic of HIV/AIDS has nothing to do with who has sex but with risky behaviors, including unprotected sex, sharing of needles, among others. He also related lack of knowledge or proper information to the rise of recorded cases.

According to Alcala, the way to address the issue is through multi-sector participation in the age-appropriate information and education drive backed by adequate government funding. (JDP/Pryce E. Quintos- PIA-CAR)

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Source: Philippine Information Agency

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