Number of new OFWs with HIV up 14 percent

Image title

A blood sample for an HIV test

MANILA—The number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who tested positive for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the first six months of 2018 in the Philippines has reached 451, up by 14.4 percent from the 394 cases reported during the same period last year.

ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III urged returning migrant workers who had engaged in high-risk sexual behavior in the past to get themselves voluntarily tested.

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

Of the 56,275 cases listed in the Philippine AIDS registry from January 1984 to June 2018, at least 5,889 were migrant workers, he said.

The Department of Health said early detection and anti-retroviral treatment had been known to slow down the advance of HIV before it worsens and becomes a full-blown AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

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

The department had listed a total of 28,045 Filipinos living with HIV who are undergoing anti-retroviral treatment as of June.

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 had sex with men (2,062 from male-to-male sex and 1,529 from sex with both males and females).

In Hong Kong, 19 Filipinos had tested positive for HIV since 2013, according to data from the Hong Kong Department of Health.

Seven tested positive in 2013, five in 2014, three in 2015, and four in 2016, the records showed.