Solon renews appeal for Palace to certify new AIDS control bill

NEWLY diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the country hit a new high of 316 in September, a member of Congress said.

The fresh infections spotted in September were the highest-ever in a month, and surpassed the previous record of 313 detected in March, according to LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty, one of the authors of a bill seeking to overhaul the country’s 14-year-old AIDS Prevention and Control Law.

The new cases jacked up to 2,466 the cumulative number of HIV infections discovered from January to September this year, up 48 percent versus the 1,669 reported over the same nine-month period in 2011.

Ty renewed his appeal for Malacañang to certify the proposed new AIDS Prevention and Control Law, or House Bill 5312.

Together with Representatives Maria Isabelle Climaco (Zamboanga City), Janette Garin (Iloilo), Jorge Banal (Quezon City), and Kaka Bag-ao (Akbayan), Ty introduced the bill more than a year ago, in a bid to revamp the 1998 AIDS Prevention and Control Law.

According to them, the law has become out-of-date, amid the sudden surge of the disease that is predominantly spread through sexual contact.

HB 5312 bill proposes an incremental funding of up to P400 million to jumpstart a new National HIV and AIDS Control Plan with crystal-clear strategies, operating guidelines, and targets.

“The new legislation has become absolutely imperative to effectively suppress the HIV epidemic,” Ty said.

Sen. Miriam Santiago has a counterpart bill pending in the upper house.

HIV causes AIDS, or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The disease that ravages the human body’s immune system does not have any known cure. However, expensive antiretroviral treatments have been known to slow down the ailment.

The 316 new cases in September — 304 males and 12 females ­– had a median age of 28 years, with those in the 20 to 29 age group comprising 57 percent.

Except for four injecting drug users infected due to tainted needle-sharing, all of the new cases acquired the virus as a result of sexual encounters, with males having sex with other males accounting for 82 percent.

The September cases included 42 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) – 38 males and four females — with the median age of 32 years. They all acquired the virus through sexual contact.

The National HIV and AIDS Registry now lists an aggregate of 10,830 cases, with 92 percent of them (or 9,949) infected via sexual contact.

The rest acquired the infection through needle-sharing among injecting drug users (424 cases, or four percent); mother-to-child transmission (59 cases, or one percent); blood transfusion (20 cases, or less than one percent); and needle prick injury (three cases, or less than one percent).

No information was available as to the mode of transmission for at least 375 cases, or three percent.

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