By Leilani S. Junio / Philippine News Agency
The Department of Health (DOH) recorded 968 new human immunodeficieny virus (HIV) cases in March, the highest monthly figure since the virus was first detected in the Philippines in 1984.
According to a DOH report, 942 of the new cases contracted the virus through sexual contact, while 22 were injecting drug users (IDU), and four involved mother-to-child transmission.
A total of 926 of those diagnosed were male and the rest were female. Some 87 percent of the new HIV-positive people were men having sex with men.
Four pregnant women tested positive for HIV in March: two from the National Capital Region (NCR), one from Region 4B (Mindoro, Marinduque, Roblon and Palawan provinces, or Mimaropa), and one from Region 7 (Central Visayas).
A total of 860 individuals (89 percent) did not experience noticeable symptoms before they were diagnosed with the virus, while 108 progressed to having Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
According to a report from the HIV/AIDS and ART (anti-retroviral therapy) Registry of the Philippines (HARP), the March figure was 32 percent higher than the 735 cases recorded in the same month last year.
“This is the highest number of cases ever reported since 1984,” the HARP report said, noting that the new cases brought to 42,283 the total number of infections logged since 1984.
The median age of the patients was 27 years old. Half of the patients belonged to the 25-to-34 age group and an alarming 33 percent to the 15-to-24 years age bracket.
Metro Manila registered the highest number of cases with 309 (32 percent), followed by Region 4A (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon provinces, or Calabarzon) with 135 (14 percent); Region 3 (Central Luzon) with 107 (11 percent); Region 7 with 76 (8 percent); and Region 11 (Davao) with 52 (5 percent). The remaining 289 were from the other regions.