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DOH: Close to half of new HIV cases are teens

by Kiko Cueto

THE Department of Health revealed that younger people aged 15 to 24 account for close to half of the new cases of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the country.

Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, said according to the cases they were able to tally, it nearly doubled this year.

But the sad part is, almost half of them involved teens.

Herbosa said that based on the latest figures, the HIV infections grew to about 50 new cases per day from last year’s average daily count of 22.

Based on the numbers, younger people aged 15 to 24 are the most affected at 47 percent.

“There’s a new subvariant that’s quite more infectious and this is the reason we’re finding this increase in cases,” he told reporters, citing infectious diseases specialist Dr. Edsel Salvana. “It’s been happening even before. We’re just detecting it [now] because we’re concentrated so much on COVID,” he said.

Based on a 2022 study, a group of researchers led by Chris Wymant showed that a new HIV variant called subtype B could cause a more severe infection.

More individuals that were hit by such strain has “an average viral load about four times higher than usual.” 

Such was the report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Herbosa said that he already had a meeting with Vice President Sara Duterte, who also heads the Department of Education.

He said that among the topics discussed were the rapidly growing number of HIV cases, specifically on the “interventions” to take regarding health literacy.

“We forged a stronger collaboration [and] convergence between … on the efforts we will put for adolescent health,” he said.

Among the topics also added were teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, mental health, and nutrition.

The UNAIDS report said that the Philippines has one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics in the world, dating back to 1984.

In 2017, the DOH declared the epidemic a national emergency because of the rapid rise of infections.



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