HIV cases soar among Filipino yuppies, call center workers

Posted at 01/27/2010 6:48 PM | Updated as of 01/31/2010 5:35 PM

Casual sex, orgies are seen as possible causes of the problem


AT A GLANCE:

Health experts warn the Philippines could be facing an HIV epidemic since the spread of the disease has risen rapidly.

A forum led by the United Nations Development Programme last year determined several risk factors that contribute to the spread of HIV including:

  • the rise in internet usage
  • popularity of anal or vaginal sex without condoms
  • the lack of state-led initiatives for sex education

The spread of HIV has been said to be a hidden and growing problem.

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine General Hospital on Wednesday said the number of Filipinos infected with HIV rose dramatically in the past 10 months and now includes young urban professionals such as call center agents.

Doctors at the PGH Infectious Disease Treatment Complex said the number of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) cases in the hospital rose to 100 in the past 10 months.

Records from the Department of Health showed that the number of HIV cases rose to 709 last year, compared to 528 in 2008.

Dr. Edsel Savana of the PGH Infectious Disease Treatment Complex said 80 HIV cases were recorded for November alone.

"The spread of AIDS in the country is already an epidemic. We should be on the lookout because AIDS spreads fast," he said.

Savana said most of those who contract HIV are sex workers, gays and drug addicts.

Dr. Katerina Leyritana, however, said hospitals have also recorded HIV cases among young urban professionals such as call center agents.

She said majority of the recent HIV cases tend to be younger, mostly from ages 15-29, who are well educated.

Some of those infected said they got the illness after engaging in casual or group sex, which they discovered through social networking sites on the Internet.

"There are a lot of sites right now that can organize orgies quickly. A lot of young people believe in casual sex," she said.

If current trends hold, the health department said HIV patients in the country could balloon to 20,000 cases by 2020.

The PGH said it will conduct a massive information drive to warn people about the possible dangers of unsafe sex. With a report from Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News.