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DOH: 86 kids, adolescents tested positive for HIV in January

Eighty-six new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were recorded among adolescents and children in January this year, based on data by the Department of Health (DOH).

A report of DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau showed that of the 1,454 confirmed HIV-positive individuals for January, seven cases were kids aged two to nine, while 79 cases were adolescents aged 10 to 19.

Among the adolescents, 57 cases were 18 to 19 years old; 20 cases were 15 to 17 years old; and two cases were 10 to 14 years old.

The DOH said almost all of them acquired the virus through sexual contact, except one who had no data on mode of transmission.

As for the children, six got HIV through vertical transmission, while one also had no data on mode of transmission.

There were also 444 cases aged 15 to 24 who tested positive for HIV. Of them, 96 were found to have advanced HIV infection.

Thirty-nine deaths were also recorded by DOH among people diagnosed with HIV in January “due to any cause.”

Nearly half or 18 of the fatalities came from Central Luzon, National Capital Region, and Northern Mindanao, while the rest were reported in various parts of the country.

The DOH pointed out that 6,383 deaths were logged in the country from January 1984 to January 2023, out of the total of 110,736 HIV cases.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that everyone, regardless of their age, could get HIV.

She explained that the most common cause of HIV in the Philippines is unsafe sex.

“Para kayo ay ma-proteksyunan, gumamit kayo ng condom o ‘di kaya malaman natin ‘yung history, of course, ng ating mga partners bago tayo makipagtalik,” she reminded the public.

(To protect yourselves from HIV, use a condom or know the history of your partners first before engaging in sex.)

Vergeire also encouraged those who engaged in risky sexual behaviors to avail of the free HIV tests and medicines in healthcare facilities.

“Hindi na po death sentence ngayon ang HIV katulad nung araw na iniisip ng mga tao na kapag nagka-HIV, wala nang lunas. Hindi kayo nagagamot, pero ‘yung gamot na iniinom niyo can maintain and sustain your life and you will be productive hanggang sa matagal na matagal na panahon,” Vergeire said.

(HIV is no longer a death sentence like before when there was no cure for HIV. You are not cured entirely, but the medicine you would be taking could maintain and sustain your life and make you productive for a long time.) —KBK, GMA Integrated News