Every Three Hours Someone in the Philippines Gets HIV

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Bullit Marquez / AP

Filipinos release paper lanterns to mark World AIDS Day at the Heroes Shrine at suburban Quezon City northeast of Manila on Dec. 1, 2012

Chris Lagman vividly remembers the night that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) came into his life. It was two years ago, and the LGBT activist was at a pre-Christmas dinner party in Quezon City with a dozen gay Filipino professionals. During the course of the evening, a fellow guest and close friend asked if he could speak privately to Lagman. He told Lagman that he had recently tested positive for HIV. Over the next few months the young man seemed to vanish from their social circle. The next time Lagman saw him was at his funeral, where relatives said the friend had died from a “mysterious” ailment. That was the first of many funerals Lagman would attend in 2011 as people he knew began to succumb to complications arising from HIV. “I would hear from other friends, [they would ask] why is it that suddenly a lot of my friends are passing away,” Lagman says.

Although there is still a low prevalence of HIV in the Philippines, with just under 24,000 cases reported in 2012, transmission is now growing rapidly. A decade ago, a new case of HIV was being reported every three days. These days, it’s every three hours — a terrifying statistic that makes the Southeast Asian nation one of only nine in the world where transmission is on the rise. The latest data from the Department of Health shows 415 new HIV cases in May, a 52% spike over the same period last year and the highest since 1984. According to the department, 9 out of 10 new cases are men, mostly under 30. The reason, many health workers say, is poor “prevention coverage” — things like the use of condoms and the availability of HIV testing — coupled with an increase in risky behavior. (Even Lagman admits to an unprotected sexual encounter in 2008 with a man he knew to be HIV positive. Fortunately Lagman later tested negative.)

(MORE: Hope, Finally, for a Family-Planning Law in the Philippines)

It doesn’t help that overbearing cultural and social stigma is attached to HIV and homosexuality in the Philippines. “It’s almost like a refusal to acknowledge that this is a sexually related disease and that we have to acknowledge that people have sex,” Senator Pia Cayetano tells TIME. “Seriously, it’s as basic as that.” Lagman, who also used to have a popular blog with thousands of gay readers, believes this stigma helps the epidemic to spread by driving gay sex underground, fueling risky behavior and forcing gay men to act in a “very stealthy and in a very shadowy way.”

The government’s response, in the form of the Reproductive Health Bill that covers the “prevention, treatment and management” of HIV and AIDS, among other sexually transmitted diseases, was stymied earlier this year when the apex court of this deeply Catholic nation held up the bill’s implementation after conservatives and religious groups filed objections. “The Reproductive Health Bill, if passed into law in its present form, will put the moral fiber of our nation at risk,” the national Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said in a statement.

The Philippines already has an AIDS prevention and control law that mandates education programs and monitoring systems. However, activists say the 15-year-old law is antiquated, given the changing nature of the disease. “When the HIV law was enacted in 1998, it was designed to address an epidemic for overseas Filipinos and among sex workers,” Jonas Bagas, head of a sexual- and health-rights NGO in the Philippines, tells TIME. “That’s not the situation right now.” Bagas says intervention programs for “stigmatized communities — MSMs [men who have sex with men], transgender, freelance sex workers, injection-drug users and drug users in general” need to be intensified. If the Reproductive Health Bill is upheld by the Supreme Court, the situation should improve. Reproductive and sexual health care will be offered at the village level and free condoms provided.

(MORE: After a Decade of Debate, the Philippines Passes Reproductive Health Bill)

Other health issues compete for scarce funds and government attention, however. Only about $15 million a year is spent on AIDS-related programs (far less than the dollar per head of population recommended by the Report of the Commission on AIDS in Asia in 2008). Peter Mosende of UNAIDS points out that containing HIV and AIDS will not become a high policy priority while diseases like tuberculosis, which kills 75 people a day in the Philippines, rampage through the country. But things could change fast. Estimates suggest that there will be 50,000 people with HIV in the Philippines in the next three years, with more than 50% of them in need of treatment, unless remedial measures are taken now. HIV testing needs to be drastically expanded, for example. It currently reaches less than 5% of intravenous-drug users and MSMs — the two groups most prone to infection.

Lagman saw his own HIV test as a rite of passage. “It was such a horrible experience. It was kind of an outing experience for me,” he says. Not long afterward, Lagman, with a group of friends, started an NGO called Love Yourself. “When people take care of themselves and they love themselves, they will stay away from risky behavior that can expose them to the virus,” he says, explaining the group’s name. There’s no doubt that a little love can go a long way, but in the fight against HIV the Philippines needs more. It needs money, political will and a readiness to dismantle decades of stigma.

MORE: Anti-HIV Antibodies May Spur AIDS Vaccine Development

151 comments
DeanCollinsWilliams
DeanCollinsWilliams

i want to use this opportunity to thank the great man called DR OLUBAM, who has make the world for me, i am so happy that dr olubam is a real man full of words of encouragement and passion on his fellow humans, i have read alot concerning great doctor before, and i decided to email him and give him try, he ask for my informations which i quickly send to him,after some minutes he mailed me back and told me that there are some things which i need to provide in order to use them to please the gods and also form the healing medicine and water to me, he told me all the things which i will provide when i provide them all to him, after two days, he sent me the healing water and medicine, which i receive from him in three days time, and he told me to take them all in a week and go for test really and accurately i do according to what he said, after a week i called my doctor for a scan test, my doctor came and scan me with his diagnosed machine, to everyone surprise , both in the eyes of my wife, i was tested negative, i was so happy i did not tell doctor about this, i waited for some time again, doctor was calling me on phone i did not pick the call, after two weeks again i went for same check up i was still tested negative, i am so happy  that my life has been changed by dr olubam, i called him and told he the great news and he told me that now that he has healed me, that i should share testimonies about him i said no problem is done already, not only that i directed two of my co workers who was hiv positive to him also and same thing they all received the cure, i am so happy that there are people in this world who has the cure to hiv, all we just have to do is to just be patience for some while and settle down and read more about hiv/aids and we will found the real people who really has the cure to hiv aids
 great doctor olubam email address is DR.OLUBAMSPELLHOME@GMAIL.COM
phone number +2347032286452
my own personal email address is deancollinswilliams@yahoo.com thanks

DeanCollinsWilliams
DeanCollinsWilliams

i want to use this opportunity to thank the great man called DR OLUBAM, who has make the world for me, i am so happy that dr olubam is a real man full of words of encouragement and passion on his fellow humans, i have read alot concerning great doctor before, and i decided to email him and give him try, he ask for my informations which i quickly send to him,after some minutes he mailed me back and told me that there are some things which i need to provide in order to use them to please the gods and also form the healing medicine and water to me, he told me all the things which i will provide when i provide them all to him, after two days, he sent me the healing water and medicine, which i receive from him in three days time, and he told me to take them all in a week and go for test really and accurately i do according to what he said, after a week i called my doctor for a scan test, my doctor came and scan me with his diagnosed machine, to everyone surprise , both in the eyes of my wife, i was tested negative, i was so happy i did not tell doctor about this, i waited for some time again, doctor was calling me on phone i did not pick the call, after two weeks again i went for same check up i was still tested negative, i am so happy  that my life has been changed by dr olubam, i called him and told he the great news and he told me that now that he has healed me, that i should share testimonies about him i said no problem is done already, not only that i directed two of my co workers who was hiv positive to him also and same thing they all received the cure, i am so happy that there are people in this world who has the cure to hiv, all we just have to do is to just be patience for some while and settle down and read more about hiv/aids and we will found the real people who really has the cure to hiv aids
 great doctor olubam email address is DR.OLUBAMSPELLHOME@GMAIL.COM
phone number +2347032286452
my own personal email address is deancollinswilliams@yahoo.com

BrooksCharley
BrooksCharley

brookscharley4I want to say a big thanks to Dr Enoma for saving my life and making me happy again, i was diagnose with HIV for a period of 4 years, i have contacted doctors for help but all i get is medication that will sustain me and not to cure the disease  totally, while i was on drugs i was still seriously searching for total cure because i was not comfortable seeing my self being HIV positive, one day i came across a testimony that Dr Enoma cured HIV i was so desperate, i contacted him with his Email: dr.enomaspellhome@gmail.com  i also called him +2348128523785 and told him my problem, he prepared a herbal medicine and sent to me he told me to take it for 7 days and go for a medical test, i did exactly as he said and now i am happy to tell you that my HIV result came out negative i am so happy. If you are in any problem, i mean any problem you can also contact him through Email: dr.enomaspellhome@gmail.com or Phone Number : +2348128523785.  Just believe and you will be healed.

DouglasDashy
DouglasDashy




My name Douglas dashy from England, Oxford,UK ...HIV has been ongoing in my family for long..I lost both parents to HIV and it is so much pain have not been able to get over.As we all know medically,there is no solution or cure for HIV and the cost for Medication is very expensive..Someone introduced me to a man(Native Medical Practitional)in oxfrod..I showed the man all my Tests and Results and i told him have already diagnosed with HIV and have spent thousands of dollars on medication..I said i will like to try him cos someone introduced me to him..He asked me sorts of questions and i answered him correctly..To cut the story short,He gave me some medicinal soaps and some herbs(have forgot the name he called them) and he thought me how am gonna use them all..At first i was skeptical but i just gave it a try..I was on his Medication for 2 weeks and i used all the soaps and herbs according to his prescription.. that he will finish the rest himself..and i called him 3 days after, i arrived and i told him what is the next thing..he said,he has been expecting my call.. he told me to visit my doctor for another test..Honestly speaking,i never believe all he was saying until after the test when my doctor mention the statement that am, HIV negative and the doctor started asking me how do i do it....Am telling this story in case anyone may need this man his email is: dr.skhivhomefcure@gmail.com or call him now at +2348158847627


RodaBlize1
RodaBlize1

i am RODA by name, i want to tell the whole world how i got my hiv cured, i live in Manchester united kingdom, presently i am working as a teacher in an high school, i was once a stripper in a club and i got affected with HIV due to the nature of my job, in February 2nd 2009, This is not design to convince you but its just a personal health experience.
I never taught doctor LAWCY could ever get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing herb spell, i have been spending so much buying my drugs for the past three years now and taking several medication but no relieve, until one day i was just browsing on the internet when i came across a great post of NANCY, who explained to me how a great dr called PAPA LAWCY helped her, by curing her from HIV, i thought as much and i quicklly contacted him, and he gave to me the assurance that he is going to help me with his herbs, he told me to buy the herbs which he will use for the preparation of my medicine which i did, he prepared the medicine and told me how i am going to take them which i did, just three days later i went to the hospital to give the final test and the doctor confirm that i am now negative, i am so happy that GOD sent DR LAWCY to help me out of my problems, if you are out there passing through this kind of problem, you can also contact him on  his email, drlawcyspellhome@gmail.com. , and i pray that he will help you also.
All thanks to DR LAWCY, you can contact me on +44702407841

Camilaluke
Camilaluke

i will thank Mrs lucia for letting the world knows the powerful man that help her from AIDS disease. This was what i have all my life been waiting for since i was infected by HIV last 6 months. I always spend money for drugs always but still yet my weight becomes poorer and my joint always getting painful and inching all day. But when i met this comment last 3 days, i quickly contacted Dr.olta the Traditional helper. He is from the western part of Africa, i didn't spend much as i spent for drugs each day, and i for the fact truly reason this because my life was already as take by this disease called AIDS. Truly, when it was 9:00 clock on Monday this week he called me that his oracle urgently required some few life items to enable the disease wipe out successfully, then i was asked to send down 200 usd ($). Which i did. He truly bought the items and surprisingly, yesterday afternoon Dr.olta called me that my work has been finally done and it work out well. I was glad and he told me to rush down to my hospital for checkup. Which i really did, my brothers and sisters i went down crying because no one has ever done this to a person in life. Dr.olta truly healed me. I was crying it was a dream to my eyes when the doctor said to me that I am HIV NEGATIVE. I am now a free born in life, am now like other people who now think things like human. For these days and forever, i will accept Dr.olta as my father and my healer and helper. He is a great man. Thank you sir. I know i cant reward you. But my God in heaven can. Thank you sir once again.


Regards.


Email him now for your problem solve at:( spelldoctor3@gmail.com)or call +2347053443408


paydayloanfirm2
paydayloanfirm2

Hello every body, am Elisa from USA, and i am here to testifies on how Dr Zuma zuk help me to cure my sickness called

HIV/AIDS which has been eating me up for 2years and 4months, and when i go online i saw his email on how he cured so many

people, so i emailed the Dr and tell my problems to him,and tell all his necessary needy for the healing, after that day he

gave me an assurance of 4days of his herbal healing, and said i should go for a medical check up on the 5th day of which i

get to the hospital the new result now shows am HIV negative. And now am so happy and free from it thanks to Dr Zuma

zuk.please if there is any one in need of his help should kindly contact him spiritualherbalisthealers@gmail.com

acdelapaz
acdelapaz

The danger with this article is that people reading it might think it is just a Gay person's disease.  This happened in many other countries. If people do not realize that HIV/AIDS transcends that barrier and understand that EVERYONE is at RISK, HIV/AIDS will continue to spread. Heterosexual transmission and infection will increase. Then spousal transmission will increase. Children will be born from mothers how have HIV. That is the saddest part of the story.

JomarSanchez
JomarSanchez

I am gay and I am a member of  gaymen social networks in internet. Two weeks ago, I received my HIV test results and I am HIV negative. Now, I advocate awareness of gay people in social networking sites of the danger of unsafe sex practice. I have informed around 1000k people using my story and a lot of were reminded of safe sex.  Some even told me, I should not stop sharing my story.  My story can be read in this link: (warning gay content) https://www.facebook.com/editnote.php?draft¬e_id=555278841195872&id=100001412835149

Jose Sokal
Jose Sokal

Descubri' hace años un medicamento ,que aumenta 1000 veces las defensas...lo comente' no me escucharon..es totalmente inofensivo..lo descubri' de casualidad..Sirve para el cancer tambien...Jose sokal..EX Director del Cuerpo Medico..Bs Aires

Beersheva
Beersheva

I might be living in a bubble, but gay men are still allowed to buy condoms in the Phils. right?

BernsDeLaVega
BernsDeLaVega

@acdelapaz -  The high numbers are contributed by gays, mode of transmission is  'banat sa wetpaks' ... bloodied ass transmission.

BernsDeLaVega
BernsDeLaVega

@Curtis LeBlanc  -- Good thoughts ...  don't spread your AIDS further.

acdelapaz
acdelapaz

@Bruno Von Zeppelinn, don't be complacent. Some of those Gay persons may actually be bi-sexual and may have hetero-sex. Women will be infected. These women may have sex with other straight men. HIV/AIDS will cross the Gay line. Count on it. EVERYONE is at RISK!!!

BernsDeLaVega
BernsDeLaVega

@Beersheva  --  sorry, you can't just buy condom in PI ... you need to have permit signed by your parents or guardians.