‘RP facing HIV epidemic explosion’

By Ding Cervantes
The Philippine Star 11/23/2005

ANGELES CITY — The Philippines is on the brink of an “explosion” of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and full-blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases, an official of the Philippine National AIDS council (PNAC) warned yesterday.

In an interview with The STAR, Dr. Roderick Poblete said the latest count of 2,354 HIV cases and 702 AIDS cases in the country is just the “tip of the iceberg.”

Poblete said while the number of reported HIV cases is low compared to other countries such as those in Africa where one out of four persons has been reported to be infected, the Philippines faces the threat of an HIV “epidemic explosion.”

“The use of condoms has been largely disregarded and our studies show that 60 percent of our population believe they cannot contract HIV, while another 23 percent falsely believe that a cure for HIV and AIDS has already been discovered,” he said.

Poblete also said the increasing “sexual adventurism” of the Filipino youth is one of the factors that could trigger an explosion of HIV cases. He could not immediately cite how many HIV cases remain unreported.

He said that the latest studies show the “painful reality” that a majority of the 2,354 confirmed cases of HIV range in age from 15 to 49.

“These are employees, workers, students and other people in the prime of their lives,” Poblete said. “They belong to the age group that is most productive and pump-priming the economy.”

He warned that should the number of HIV-infected people increase, this would inevitably result in “social disharmony” arising from strong discrimination against patients who contract the infection.

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