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HIV-AIDS victims getting younger

Hananeel Bordey

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A lawmaker yesterday used the occasion of Valentine’s Day to warn the public, especially the youth, to be aware of the consequences brought about by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), citing recent statistics of the diseases’ further spread as “deeply disturbing.”

Deputy Majority Leader Ron Salo said Valentine’s Day celebration by couples could also serve as a launch pad for HIV-AIDS campaign as the occasion is not only associated with the spread of love but also of romance among partners.

Salo said government and the private sector should join hands in campaigns to teach couples to adhere to safer ways of intimacy even as he cited Department of Health (DoH) numbers on the rising cases of HIV-AIDS in the country.

Salo also emphasized the DoH reported four pregnant mothers and 52 adolescents as among the 877 new HIV cases recorded recently.

“All the adolescents found to have been infected with HIV got it through sexual intercourse and two of them were in the 10 to 14-years age range. The four pregnant women with HIV are in the 22 to 25 age range,” Salo said.

He called it “deeply disturbing” as the number continues to increase and he called that a new HIV-AIDS policy must be implemented quickly.

“The latest report is deeply disturbing. We really need more prevention, education and other forms of effective intervention. The new law must be implemented fast,” Salo stressed.

“Considering that the 108 patients who said they paid for or received payment for sex were aged 17 to 53 years, that means for those who are 10 to 16 years old, there was no money involved. So other factors like rape, sexual abuse, molestation or experimentation would have been present,” he added.

Under a newly enacted law, teenagers aged 18-years and below can undergo HIV testing even without any parental consent.

“Persons younger than 15 who are pregnant or engage in high-risk behavior making them open to infection can also choose to be tested but with the assistance of a licensed social worker or health worker,” Salo said.

He further cited that 13 of the 71 HIV-AIDS-related deaths recorded last December were youth aged 15 to 24.

Of the new HIV Cases reported, 846 of the 877 were male with the median age of 28 years old. Half of the cases were aged 25-34 years old and 281 were 15-24 years old at the time of testing.

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