“The March cases brought to 6,524 the cumulative number of OFWs found living with HIV since the government began passive surveillance of the virus in 1984,” Rep. John Bertiz of ACTS-OFW party-list said.
AFP /Leon Neal
91 more OFWs infected with HIV
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - May 27, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An additional 91 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in March, up by 14 percent from 80 in the same month last year, the lone representative of OFWs in Congress said Saturday.

“The March cases brought to 6,524 the cumulative number of OFWs found living with HIV since the government began passive surveillance of the virus in 1984,” Rep. John Bertiz of ACTS-OFW party-list said.

Bertiz noted that the OFWs now comprise 10 percent of the 65,463 confirmed cases listed in the National HIV/AIDS Registry as of March.

The workers in the registry worked abroad within the past five years, either on land or at sea, when they were diagnosed HIV-positive, he added.

Bertiz pointed out that most of the OFWs with HIV came from Metro Manila (2,110 cases or 32 percent), Region 4B (1,139 cases or 17 percent) and Region 3 (761 cases or 12 percent).

He said 86 percent, or 5,635, were male with the median age of 32 years; while 889 were female with an average age of 34 years.

Of the male cases, 72 percent or 2,372 were found infected via sexual contact with men while 1,699 had sex with both males and females, Bertiz noted.

HIV causes AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which destroys the human body’s natural ability to fight off all kinds of infections. Although the condition still does not have any known cure, antiretroviral therapy has been known to slow down the virus. 

Bertiz urged the Department of Labor and Employment to deliver “highly improved support” to the growing number of OFWs living with HIV, as mandated by the new AIDS Prevention and Control law that took effect earlier this year.

Section 37 of the law tasks the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, together with other agencies, to develop a program to provide stigma-free comprehensive reintegration, care and support for OFWs with HIV, he said.

HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS
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