In observance of World AIDS Day, a Filipino party-list representative has called for a campaign for stronger awareness against AIDS, citing that the epidemic has infected about 60,000 Filipinos and has already killed over 3,000 at present, as shared in a report by the Manila Standard.
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ACTS-OFW Party-list member Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III remarked that fighting AIDS by raising awareness and capitalizing on prevention is a top priority for their party-list because currently, one in every 10 Filipinos living with the infection is a migrant worker.
HIV Infection Among OFWs Raises Call for Action
Bertiz pointed out that OFWs are at a much higher risk for the infection because they are exposed to foreign cultures, and because of this, they sometimes let their guard down.
From January until September of this year, there have been a total of 697 newly-diagnosed cases of HIV among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), 13.7 percent higher from last year’s 613 for the same period, Bertiz cited.
The latest figures brought the total number of cumulative reported cases of OFWs with HIV inection to 6,135 since 1984. At present, OFWs account for one-tenth of the 59,135 confirmed cases of HIV infection in the country, as per the data released by the National HIV/AIDS Registry in September this year.
Out of the 6,135 cases of infections in the OFW registry, 5,280 or 86% are male with the average age of 32, whereas the remaining 14% are female with the average age of 34. A large part of the male cases or 71%, as per the report, were infections involving MSM, or men who have sex with men.
In line with this, the party-list representative called on the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to allocate more resources for preventive efforts, by means of educating OFWs and their families regarding this phenomenon.