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78 OFWs hit by HIV in April

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Some 78 overseas Filipino workers, 69 of them males, were diagnosed as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive in April, the ACTS-OFW Coalition of Organizations said.

ACTS-OFW chairman Aniceto Bertiz III said this brought to 347 the number of newly reported HIV-positive from January to April, up 17 percent from the 296 in 2018.

He said the cumulative number of OFWs found living with HIV has reached 6,602 since 1984, when the government first began passive surveillance of the virus.

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

He added the bulk of the OFWs in the registry were from Metro Manila (2,218 cases, 32 percent); Calabarzon (1,148 cases, 17 percent); and Central Luzon (772 cases, 12 percent).

Of the 6,602 OFWs in the registry, 86 percent, or 5,704, were male. Their ages ranged from 16 to 80 years upon diagnosis.

The 898 female OFWs in the registry had a median age of 34 years, with ages ranging from 20 to 73 upon diagnosis.

Of the male OFW cases, 72 percent were found infected via sexual contact among MSM, or men who have sex with men (2,404 from male-to-male sex and 1,719 from sex with both males and females).

Bertiz said the government should o deliver improved support to the growing number of OFWs living with HIV, as mandated by the new AIDS Prevention and Control Law.

“We must stress that the preventive education sessions are to be provided free of charge and at no cost to OFWs or to the staff concerned,” he added.

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