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Hontiveros to gov’t: Declare ‘national emergency’ over HIV spread in PH

August 7, 2017 ·  By INQUIRER.net for newsinfo.inquirer.net

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Senator Risa Hontiveros. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Senator Risa Hontiveros. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Following a recent report of the Philippines having the fastest growing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in the Asia-Pacific region, Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the government to declare a “national emergency” over the spread of the said infection.

The Philippines has the highest incidence of the HIV infection in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Hontiveros raised the immediate formulation of a six-year National Multi-Sectoral HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan which would serve as an “evidence-based, human rights-informed, and gender-transformative” HIV prevention and treatment plan.

“Education on sexuality and safe sex is being neglected, and unfortunately, that takes a toll on the health of our young people. The majority of new cases is from the age bracket 15-24 years old,” Hontiveros said in a statement, pointing out that stigma remains as one of the major reasons for the spread of the virus.

The neophyte senator is the vice chairperson of the Senate committee on health.

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS report showed that the number of new infections in the country has increased by 140-percent for the past six years, from an estimated 4,300 in 2010 to around 10,500 in 2016.

The highest recorded number of cases in the country since 1984 was in May 2017 alone, with a record of 1,098 new cases of HIV-AIDS. The new cases are mostly from men having sex with men and transgender women.

“The government must focus its time and resources on this urgent, life and death matter. We cannot afford to lose our young people to this epidemic. Equally, the government must ensure that people with HIV live with dignity and without fear of stigma and discrimination. This is a fight we cannot afford to lose,” Hontiveros said. Winona Sadia, INQUIRER.net trainee/JE

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