Press Release
February 1, 2010

Loren alarmed by rising HIV/AIDS cases

The government should take immediate and decisive steps to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country, according to Sen. Loren Legarda.

Loren, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, made the call in the wake of recent findings that HIV/AIDS cases have risen in the country, particularly among those working in call centers.

"While call centers and the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry are big revenue earners for the country, I am alarmed over reports that incidence of HIV/AIDS among call center workers is on the rise. This should be looked into by health authorities," Loren said.

Loren noted that while there is already legislation in place to address the problem-Republic Act 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998-firm enforcement and a sustained information, education and communication campaign should be undertaken to stop the spread of the disease.

Loren cited the importance of heightening awareness of HIV/AIDS among various sectors, especially the youth who are likely to engage in risky unprotected sex.

While the preventive aspect is important, Loren said, health authorities should also intensify efforts to remove the social stigma of the disease and help those afflicted by the disease to live normal lives.

Loren pointed out that while the Philippines is a low-HIV-prevalence country, with less than 0.1 percent of the adult population estimated to be HIV-positive, the government should nevertheless invest enough resources in preventing the spread of the deadly disease and keeping it from reaching epidemic proportions.

The Health Department said that 322 people were newly infected from January to May in 2009, with 85 cases in May alone. Since 1984, the country has recorded 3,911 HIV cases.

In July last year, amid reports that the Philippines reported 85 new cases in one month, Renaud Meyer, director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines, expressed concern over the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases in the Philippines. "We are not doing good [in controlling HIV] because instead of reversing and halting it, we see increasing cases," Meyer said.

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