The Philippines is currently seeing a continuous increase in the number of individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and cases are projected to reach 364,000 by 2030, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) said.

HIV epidemic is one of the public health concerns worldwide, said Noel Palaypayon, unit head and supervising health program officer of the National HIV & STI Surveillance and Strategic Information Unit of the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau.

In 2021, there were 38.4 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) globally, 1.5 million individuals were “newly infected,” and 650,000 people died from “AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)-related illnesses,” said Palaypayon as he cited data from the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

“But what’s good to hear is that with all the interventions and efforts of different countries in place, we have already seen a 30 percent decrease [in] annual new infections  between 2010 up to 2021,” said Palaypayon in a forum on Friday, April 14.

However, the trend of HIV cases in the Philippines is not showing signs of decline, said the Health official.

“Looking at the HIV trend in the Philippines, this was not the case as there were 21,400 newly infected with HIV in 2021, which is a 327 percent increase from 2010 to 2021,” said Palaypayon.

“The new infections are projected to still continuously increase in the next years…The estimated PLHIVs in the Philippines could reach 364,000 by 2030 which is a two-fold increase from the estimated PLHIV by the end of 2022,” he noted.

A total of 112,028 HIV cases were recorded from 1984 to February 2023. The average of newly diagnosed cases per day increased from nine in 2012 to 47 in 2023, said Palaypayon.

The HIV epidemic in the country is “concentrated” on “key and vulnerable populations”: men having sex with males, transgender women, female sex workers, people who inject drugs, young key population, as well as women and children, said Palaypayon.


Of the projected 364,000 HIV cases by 2030, “nearly half of the new infections will be among the youth” aged 15 to 24, said  Palaypayon.

“By 2030, 16 percent of the estimated new infections are among 15 to 19 years old and 30 percent are among the 20 to 24 years old,” he said.

The DOH has also monitored a spike in the number of HIV cases among individuals 10 to 19 years old, said Palaypayon.

“Now focusing on young people, especially adolescents ages 10 to 19 years old, trend of diagnosed cases have also been increasing across the years. From 2005 to February this year, meron na tayong (we already have) 4,699 cases,” said Palaypayon.

In February alone, a total of 54 HIV cases from the same age group were recorded.

“This is 12 percent higher compared to the same reporting period last year. Among cases diagnosed last February, 96 percent were males, all cases were transmitted through sex, while 20 percent were classified as AIDS, meaning their HIV infection is already considered as advanced based on WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines,” said Palaypayon.

Breaking the cycle

In order to break the cycle of HIV transmission, Palaypayon said that key and vulnerable populations should “have  access to preventive services” and that they should be practicing protective behavior.”

“The vulnerable populations…we need to test and diagnose them as early as possible. Early detection means higher chance of  linking them to care  or treatment before any other opportunistic infections take place and bago pa tuluyang bumagsak ang immune system ng isang taong may HIV,” he said.

“Diagnosis is one but getting them into treatment is another. Even though there is no cure for HIV as of the moment, it is treatable by taking medications or the antiretroviral therapy,” he added.

Testing and treatment for HIV is available, DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing last March.

“Kung sa tingin niyo po nagkaroon kayo ng risky behavior, libre po ang gamutan at saka test for HIV. Kailangan niyo lamang po pumunta, even in your local governments, meron na po tayong mga test for HIV. At kung sakaling makita na meron kayong sakit, libre pa rin po ang gamutan. Hindi na po death sentence ang HIV (If you think you have engaged in risky behavior, you can get free treatment and test[ing] for HIV. You just need to go [to treatment hubs], even in your local governments, HIV testing is being offered. And if you are found to be sick, the treatment is still free. HIV is no longer a death sentence),” she then said.