OFWs hit by HIV up 14%

Health Sep 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm

OFW-HIVReturning migrant workers who believe they engaged in high-risk sexual behavior in the past urged to get themselves voluntarily tested

A total of 451 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were newly diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from January to June this year, up 14.4 percent compared to the 394 listed in the same six-month period in 2017, ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III said Sunday (Sept. 9).

“All told, OFWs with HIV now account for 10 percent of all cases in the National HIV and AIDS Registry,” Bertiz said.

Of the 56,275 cases listed in the registry from January 1984 to June 2018, the lawmaker said 5,889 are OFWs.

“We would urge OFWs who believe that they engaged in high-risk sexual behavior in the past to get themselves voluntarily tested for HIV,” Bertiz said.

Early detection and antiretroviral treatment (ART) have been known to slow down the advance of HIV, which causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), according to the Department of Health (DOH).

AIDS destroys the human body’s natural ability to fight off all kinds of infections, and the condition still does not have any known cure.

“The DOH has 60 HIV treatment hubs across the country plus 33 primary care facilities that provide outpatient care services to returning OFWs and other citizens living with the virus,” Bertiz said.

A total of 28,045 Filipinos living with HIV were on record as undergoing ART as of June, the DOH said.

Of the 5,889 OFWs in the National HIV and AIDS Registry, Bertiz said 5,063, or 86 percent, were male with the median age of 32 years.

Majority of the male cases, or 71 percent, were infected through sexual contact among MSM, or men who have sex with men (2,062 from male-to-male sex and 1,529 from sex with both males and females).

The median age of female OFWs in the registry was 34 years.

Bertiz urged the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to devote more resources toward HIV/AIDS prevention and education among OFWs and their families.