DOH allocates ₱1 billion to fight HIV

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of Health (DOH) has allocated a higher budget for HIV treatment in 2017 following the increase in HIV infections this year.

Called the Anti-retroviral Treatment or ART, those infected with the virus undergo the procedure to lower their HIV load (amount of virus in the body) and improve immune response.

16,637 individuals get free treatment in registered HIV treatment hubs in the country.

But with a current budget of ₱900 million for the ART, health officials say they can accommodate at least 13,000 more.

Next year, the allocated budget for the treatment is at ₱1 billion.

Data from the DOH showed HIV infections in the country increased by 17 percent this year.

That's 3,112 new HIV cases from 2,625 in July-October of 2015.

HIV cases diagnosed per day also went up from 17 a day in 2014 to 26 cases in a day this 2016.

Ninety-six percent of those infected are male, aged 15-34 years old, majority of them, from the National Capital Region with 41 percent of reported cases, followed by Region 4A with 15 percent of cases, and Regions 3, 7, 11, and the rest of the country.

Twenty-two pregnant women were also diagnosed with HIV from July-October 2016.

Health officials say, 87 percent of infections transmitted through sexual contact were among males who have sex with males.

Others are infected through needle sharing among intravenous drug users and through mother-to-child transmission.

So far, there have been 382 reported deaths this year.

The World Health Organization hopes to end AIDS in the Philippines by 2030 through effective treatment and prevention.