Signs Point to Worsening HIV Epidemic in Philippines Despite Low Official Prevalence Rate, Health Officials Say
A low official HIV prevalence rate in the Philippines misrepresents the extent of the "creeping" epidemic in the country, according to some health officials, Reuters reports. The Philippines officially has recorded 2,200 HIV cases and 676 AIDS cases, but the country's Department of Health and the World Health Organization estimate that 10,000 HIV-positive people lived in the country in 2003. A conservative culture strongly influenced by the Catholic Church might be deterring some HIV-positive people from getting tested and reporting their status, according to Reuters. "We're definitely not getting the right figures," Dominic Garcia of the AIDS Society of the Philippines said, adding, "There are a lot of Filipinos that are HIV-positive but don't know it. Some haven't even heard of the disease." In addition, the commercial sex industry, low condom use rates, an increasing number of injection drug users and rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases are some "red flags" that HIV prevalence is at risk of increasing, Reuters reports. "All the ingredients of an explosion are there," Roderick Poblete of the Philippine National AIDS Council said, adding, "If we don't shape up by 2010, the epidemic may turn the tide on us" (Bhushan, Reuters, 9/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.