By Gerard Naval
THE Philippines is on the brink of a "concentrated epidemic" of HIV/AIDS as the number of cases continues to increase, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.
Dr. Ferchito Avelino, executive director of DOH-Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), told a press conference that the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the country is now at 0.4 percent from 0.08 percent in 2007.
"If your prevalence rate is below one percent, you are considered a low-prevalent country. If more than one percent, that would be concentrated or generalized epidemic already," he explained.
Avelino noted that the 1 percent threshold was set by the members of the United Nations and other international health agencies.
He said that by sector, the prevalence rate for the "men-having-sex-with-men" (MSM) group is now 0.99 percent.
"So, there is a big possibility for the Philippines to reach the borderline if effective preventive measures are not be taken soon," he said.
Avelino noted that for the past three years, MSM has been the primary contributor in the rising cases of HIV/AIDS in the country.
In the past, commercial sex workers and seafarers accounted for most of the HIV/AIDS cases.
DOH records show that from 1984, recorded HIV cases reached 4,697, including 835 that led to full-blown AIDS cases.
In February alone, the DOH detected 130 new HIV cases.
"The figure is a 177 percent increase compared to the same period last year (47 in 2009)," said the latest Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry report.