By Prince Golez
The number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may surpass the 7,000-mark this year, the ACTS-OFW Coalition of Organizations said.
“The cumulative number of OFWs confirmed as HIV-positive could reach more than 7,200 by the end of the year, at the rate new cases are being discovered,” according to ACTS-OFW chairman Aniceto Bertiz III.
Bertiz said a total of 444 newly confirmed HIV-positive OFWs were reported from January to May this year, up 21 percent year over year.
“All told, the total number of OFWs found living with HIV has reached 6,699 since 1984, when the government first began passive surveillance of the virus,” he added.
The former party-list representative also urged returning OFWs who think that they may have been exposed to HIV should get tested and treated early so they can still live healthy productive lives.
HIV is the virus that causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which destroys the body’s defense against all kinds of bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
Even though there is no cure for the disease, sustained antiretroviral treatment has been known to keep the virus suppressed, as long as diagnosed and remedied early.