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Lack of knowledge results to
belief in majority of what other people think – worst, people embrace numerous
myths and form a stigma revolving around the disease and people with it. The
Philippines still have a stigmatized perception regarding HIV and AIDS. Common
myths that people usually believe in include the belief that ONLY gay people
and prostitutes get HIV because it is a payment for their sin, HIV can be
transmitted through kissing, handshakes, animal feces, baby parts, dirty air,
dirty public toilet seats and anything Filipinos perceive as dirty, if a you’re
healthy then you don’t have AIDS and those that say that this disease doesn’t
exist and it’s just a made up conspiracy (Five Dangerous HIV/AIDS Myths That
Many Filipinos Still Believe. (2016, January 07). Retrieved November 12, 2017,
from http://www.getrealphilippines.com/blog/2016/01/five-dangerous-hivaids-myths-many-filipinos-still-believe/).

Among the Filipino youth,
only 43.2% females and 39.8% males think that they won’t get infected when they
share plates with those who have the disease, showing a large portion of more
than half who think that sharing plates will get them infected (YAFS4 2013). On
the other hand, majority perceive AIDS as contagious. According to the US
Department of Health and Human Services’ website AIDSinfo, a contagious disease
is a very communicable disease which can spread rapidly from person to person
through direct contact, such as touching, indirect contact, such as touching a
contaminated object, or a droplet contact, such as inhaling droplets made when
an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks – the very opposite characteristic
of AIDS transmission. Three in four women (75%) knew that AIDS cannot be
transmitted through hugging and shaking hands, six in ten (60%) believe that it
can’t be acquired by sharing food with an infected person. It is evident that
one in four woman still think that AIDS can be transmitted through skin contact
and four out of ten thinks that they can get infected when sharing food with a
person carrying the disease (NDHS 2013).

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Other mode of transmission
that is highly misunderstood is through saliva. The chances of acquiring HIV
through kissing, biting or dental treatment is rare. Medical experts have
conducted studies that shows the presence of HIV in saliva is limitedly low.
The saliva contains a chemical property that disrupts the multiplication of HIV
virus in it which is why only 1%-5% of a patient’s saliva is infectious
compared to semen and vaginal discharge which is 20% infectious. The capacity
of this property of saliva to counter the multiplication of HIV virus is
reduced by milk, semen and severe bleeding (Why is HIV Rarely Transmitted
through Oral Secretions. (1999). ebook American Medical Association.
Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/484948
Accessed 11 Nov. 2017).

There are many factors that
affect how youth perceive HIV and AIDS including their education, culture,
socialization and personal experiences. Scientific messages often overlap with
local beliefs and different sources often causes conflict and misconceptions
among young people. In the case of Zambian males, 78% believe that having one
sexual partner reduces the chance of being infected by HIV but many still
prefer multiple sexual partners in belief that it is an essential part to
achieve manhood (Longfield, K., Cramer, R., &Sachingongu, N. (2003).
Misconceptions, Folk Beliefs, & Denial: Young Men’s Risk for STIs &
HIV/AIDS in Zambia . Retrieved November 7, 2017, from http://www.psi.org/wp-content/uploads/drupal/sites/default/files/publication_files/WP53.pdf).In
the case of Filipinos, 68.1% male and 67.7% female youth believe that having
sex with only one partner reduces the risk of acquiring HIV (YAFS4 2013).

Misconceptions on preventions
of HIV transmission can be observed in young people as some even believe that
it can be prevented or treated by a concoction of drinks, douching with
detergents, washing the penis or interrupting the sexual intercourse (An HIV
epidemic is ready to emerge in the Philippines. (2010). ebook Journal of the
International AIDS Society. Available at:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1186/1758-2652-13-16/epdf Accessed 15
Nov. 2017).In the Philippines, out of 1200 surveyed men, many believed that
antibiotics, prayer and keeping fit would protect them against HIV and AIDS (An
HIV epidemic is ready to emerge in the Philippines. (2010). ebook Journal of
the International AIDS Society. Available at:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1186/1758-2652-13-16/epdf Accessed 15
Nov. 2017).

          While some think it actually works ,
using alcohol does not lessen or prevent people from acquiring HIV once it
enters the body. When a fluid containing HIV enters your body through the
vagina, penis, blood vessels or even the smallest cuts in any part of your body
using alcohol cannot prevent it from spreading. On the other hand, the HIV
virus dies once it comes in contact with oxygen, whether you use alcohol or not
as long as it is outside the body (The AIDS Vancouver Online Helpline. (n.d.).
Retrieved November 11, 2017, from
http://helpline.aidsvancouver.org/question/several-questions-about-hiv-transmission-needed-be-clarified).

Several studies show that
despite the youth have high level of awareness about the disease, vital
information and proper knowledge about HIV and AIDS lacks among the youth
worldwide. This makes them susceptible to belief in common misconceptions about
the disease, how it is passed, prevented and treated, which is still present (Longfield,
K., Cramer, R., , N. (2003). Misconceptions, Folk Beliefs,
& Denial: Young Men’s Risk for STIs & HIV/AIDS in Zambia . Retrieved
November 7, 2017, from http://www.psi.org/wp-content/uploads/drupal/sites/default/files/publication_files/WP53.pdf).

           Effects of the prevailing stigma
here in the country is not a surprise anymore.HIV positive people are at risk
of getting AIDS that is caused by the stigma Filipinos produce. This also
affects the psychological state of the person with HIV that causes shyness to
“come out”. It can be considered as a death sentence to those carrying the
virus when they are discriminated and avoided, some choose to be not diagnosed
to avoid judgment from health workers ((www.dw.com), D. W. (n.d.). Dying of
shame and AIDS in the Philippines | Asia | DW | 30.05.2016. Retrieved November
7, 2017, from http://www.dw.com/en/dying-of-shame-and-aids-in-the-philippines/a-19292896).

 

            Status of HIV and AIDS. The number of people who have
been infected by HIV has reached more than 47 million ever since 1981, along
with the lives taken by this disease. This is indeed an epidemic threatening
different parts of the world, being sex as its major transmission route, which
could have been prevented if only there is an absolute use of condoms during
high risk sexual interactions.

            Our country was not spared from this worldwide epidemic.
In March 2016, reported cases of HIV was highest in NCR, with 284 (39%) cases,
followed by Region 4A with 94 (13%) number of cases, Region 7 with 71 (10%)
cases, and lastly Region 11 with 65 or 9%of total number of cases. Another 140
cases can be counted from different parts of the Philippines. And we can say
that this may be just the tip on iceberg since not everyone as an access on HIV
tests and diagnosis, so who knows how many untreated, HIV-infected Filipinos
are out there.

            The most common modes of transmission of HIV is through
sexual contact, sharing of needles among drug users and the transmission of the
virus from mother to child, but the highest of which transmission occurred
between men to men sexual partners.

            In 1984, the dreadful epidemic has reached us and has
infected someone. The  first  case 
of  HIV  infection 
in  the  Philippines 
was  reported  in 1984. 
Now the numbers are already thousands. The increasing trend started in
2011 and has continued up until 2016, wherein eighty-two  percent 
(26,632)  of  all 
the  32,647  diagnosed 
cases  in the  Philippines 
were  reported  from 
January  2011  to 
March  2016.

            Before, the more dominantly infected group are females,
but there were changes in the trend by the year 1991 wherein more and more
males are being reported as infected by HIV. Of the 26, 632 cases, around 96 %
of them are men.

            In 2001 to
2005, adults 35 to 49 years old comprises the biggest proportion among the
reported cases of HIV. From the following years after, it became the 25 to 34
years age group. Seeing this significant trend in the age group of the highest
proportion of HIV cases, it is high time that we must do something in order to
prevent the spread of infection among younger age groups.

            The data from the HIV/ AIDS and Art Registry of the
Philippines shows that on March 2016, 204 (28%) cases were among youth aged
15-24 years. Most (96%) were male. Ninety-nine percent (203) were infected
through  sexual  contact 
(17  male-female  sex, 
110  male-male  sex, 
76  sex  with 
both  males  & 
females)  and  1 
(<1%)  through  needle sharing among IDU. From  January  1984–March  2016,  8,738  (27%)  of  the  reported  cases  were  15-24  years  old.  Eighty-six  percent  (7,525)  of  all  the  youth were  reported  from  2011  to  2016.  From  1984  to  2002,  more  than  half  of  the  cases  among  the  youth  were  females  (179  or  71%). However,  in  2003,  there  was  an  equal  number  of  males  and  females  reported.  Since then, the trend reversed to male predominance. Ninety-five  percent  (8,293)  were  infected  through  sexual  contact  (1,079  male-female  sex,  4,511  male-male  sex,  2,703  sex  with  both males & females); and 385 were infected through sharing of infected needles among IDU.             In  March  2016,  35  adolescents  aged  17-19  years  were  reported  to  HARP,  while one child was infected through mother-to-child transmission. All adolescents were infected  through  sexual  contact  (4  male-female  sex,  21  male-male  sex,  10  sex with both males & females).             From  January  1984  to  March  2016,  1,125  (3%)  of  the  reported  cases  were 19 years  old  and  below.  Of these, 84 (7%) were children.  Eighty-three percent (930) of these children and adolescents were reported from 2011-2016.  Eighty-one children were infected through mother-to-child transmission, 1 through blood transfusion and 2 had no specified MOT. Among the adolescents, 941 (90%) were male. Majority (90%) were infected through sexual contact (130 male-female sex,             562  male-male  sex,  253  sex  with  both  males  &  females),  83  (8%)  were  infected through  sharing  of  infected  needles  and  6  (1%)  through  mother -to-child transmission.             The Department of Health (DOH) established a separate reporting mechanism for deaths in 2012. Prior to this, deaths were infrequently reported to the HIV/AIDS Registry. It is likely that the number reflected here is an underestimate of the total number of deaths among people with HIV in the Philippines.             For the month of March 2016, there were 26 reported deaths. Ninety two percent (24) were male while 78% (2) were female.             Fifteen (58%) of the reported deaths belong to the 25-34 year age group, 8 were in the 35-49 year age group, 2 were youth aged 15-24 years old and 1 belongs to the 50 years & older age group. All were infected through sexual contact (4 male-female sex, 14 male-male sex, 8 sex with both males & females).             A  total  of  1,675  deaths  were  reported  from  January  1984  to  March  2016.  Eighty-seven percent (1,454) were male. Of the reported deaths. Almost half (784 or 47%) belong to 25-34 year age group, 505 (30%) were in 35-49 year age group, while 225 (14%) were youth aged 15-24 years old. Sexual contact (95%) was the most common mode of HIV transmission (448 male-female  sex,  739 male-male sex, 405 sex with both males & females. There were 39 reported deaths among IDU. Recent studies show that in the month of June 2017 alone, 1, 013 new cases were reported. 93% of the infected were males with half of the cases form ages 25-34 and 32% from the youth ages 15-24.  Previous and present data shows that there is a continuous upward trend among HIV positive cases in the youth. Cases in the 15-24 year age group increased from 25% in 2006-2010 to  29% in 2011-2017.From 26 cases per day in 2016, it reached up to 30 HIV cases this June 2017 which is quite alarming. (HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines HARP)

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