‘Sex tripping’ Americans don’t bode well for AIDS control — solon

LAWMAKERS just won’t let go of US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr.’s declaration that four in 10 male foreign tourists, including Americans, who travel to the Philippines seek to engage in sexual activity here.

A day after Sen. Francis Escudero challenged Thomas to either back up with proof or withdraw his claim, another member of Congress said the US envoy’s statement does not bode well for Philippine efforts to fight the predominantly sexually transmitted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Ty arrived at his estimate by extrapolating Department of Tourism (DOT) statistics, which indicated that a total 3,520,471 foreigners, including 600,165 Americans, arrived in the Philippines in 2010.

From January to July this year, a total of 2,280,184 foreigners, including 390,028 Americans, arrived in the country.

While the DOT statistics did not specify the gender divide of the arrivals Ty said that based on historical figures, males comprise an average of 65 percent of all foreigners who visit the country every year.

“What is perhaps more worrisome is that many male foreign tourists come from Western countries that, when compared to the Philippines, have much livelier commercial sex industries, which are potential AIDS hotspots,” Ty said.

Ty has been pushing for highly aggressive measures to suppress HIV and improve the welfare of the growing number of Filipinos living with the virus that causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.

Only recently, Ty and four of his colleagues filed a bill seeking to add more teeth to the country’s 13-year-old AIDS Prevention and Control Law, which they said has been rendered outmoded by the changing times and the rapid expansion of the  contagious disease that ravages the body’s immune system.

Nine in 10 new HIV cases passively diagnosed in the Philippines were infected as a result of risky or unprotected sexual contact. In July alone, a record-high of seven new HIV cases every day were detected in the country.

Next to South Korea, America is the Philippines’ second biggest supplier of foreign tourists. Other countries providing large numbers of visitors to the Philippines are Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Germany.

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