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How many seafarers?* : DOH data show 5,537 OFWs have HIV/AIDS, says lawmaker

DOH data show 5,537 OFWs have HIV/AIDS, says lawmaker
April 8, 2018

Eleven percent of the total 52,280 Filipinos who have HIV and AIDS are migrant workers, a party-list representative said on Sunday.

Citing data from the Department of health's National HIV/AIDS Registry as of Feb. 28, 2018, ACTS-OFW Representative Aniceto Bertiz III said a total of 5,537 overseas Filipino workers have tested positive for HIV and AIDS.

Bertiz said that based on the DOH's registry, 4,763 of the infected OFWs are male.

He added that 140 OFWs have been newly diagnosed with HIV from January to February this year.

The new HIV-positive OFWs include 129 males and 11 females.

"Almost all of the OFWs in the registry acquired the infection via sexual contact," the lawmaker said.

"This is very unfortunate, because if we look at the median age of these OFWs - at 32 to 34 years old - they are actually at the top of their lives in terms of potential workforce productivity," Bertiz added.

He said the Department of Labor and Employment should invest in HIV/AIDS awarenes and prevention for migrant workers to reduce the number.

He said that OFWs are more susceptible to having HIV or AIDS because they are "they are exposed to foreign cultures that usually encourage high-risk behavior, including casual sex."

Of the OFWs, Bertiz said Filipino sailors are especially vulnerable.

"And they have the money to pay for readily available commercial or transactional sex services in foreign ports," he said.

Based on the DOH registry, Bertiz said a total of 2,511 deaths have been recorded from the total number of HIV/AIDS cases.

Forty-one of these deaths were recorded in 2017, he said. —ALG, GMA News

*No answer--ST(helmsman)