DOH tracks rising HIV deaths

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

THE Department of Health (DOH) said Sunday it has noticed a growing number of deaths caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the past two years.

“Beginning 2011, there has been an increase in the number of recorded deaths,” said the DOH-National Epidemiology Center (NEC) in its May 2013 Philippine HIV and Aids Registry report.

An average of 14 deaths per year had been tallied from 1984 to 2010 before it went up to 69 in 2011 and 177 last year.

For this year, the DOH reported that there have been 65 HIV deaths from January to May.

Since 1984, the department said 774 Filipinos died from the disease, which has already affected 13,594 people in the country.

This gives HIV in the Philippines a 5.7 percent mortality rate or over one death per 20 cases.

The report comes on the heels of the new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is now suggesting an earlier provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to HIV patients.

Under the new guidelines, all countries are encouraged to initiate ARTs in adults living with HIV when their CD4 cell count fall to 500 cells/mm³ or less or “when their immune systems are still strong.”

WHO’s previous position was to offer treatment at 350 CD4 cells/mm³ or less.

As of May, there are currently 4,115 people with HIV in the country who are undergoing ARTs in 17 treatment hubs nationwide. (HDT/Sunnex)

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