6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Where we are?

AIDS candlelight memorial
The Philippines has seen increasing trend on new HIV cases driven by increase in risky behaviors and low prevention coverage. (Photo: UNDP Philippines)


Amidst the global downtrend in the AIDS epidemic, the Philippines is seeing accelerated increase in new HIV infection. Data from the National HIV and AIDS Registry of the Department of Health reveals an exponential increase in new reported HIV cases in the country with almost half of the cumulative infections reported from 2006 to 2009. From one new case detected every three days in 2000, the reported HIV incidence increased to two per day in 2009. By April 2010, new cases of HIV infection further increased to five each day. The more than 25 percent increase in new HIV cases suggests spreading, rather than reversal of the epidemic, and therefore a cause of concern. In addition, the cumulative death toll from AIDS had already reached 337. Relatively low coverage of prevention interventions, together with increased risky behavior and high level of misconceptions about HIV transmission, and poor attitude on use of protection on the disease have contributed to this trend.

Sexual transmission continues to be the main cause of HIV infection. However, the increase in needle sharing among injecting drug users raises apprehension. Moreover, the high prevalence of risky behavior including unprotected sex and multiple sexual partnerships among at-risk groups is also a cause for concern. HIV and AIDS awareness across population groups, especially among the youth, leaves much room for improvement. Misconceptions on basic facts about the disease must also be dispelled. Preventive measures, on the other hand, must be advocated.

In terms of national prevalence rate, HIV has remained below one percent although some areas have reported more than one percent among its most-at-risk populations. However, there seems to be an underreporting of HIV and AIDS cases in the country. As of 2005, the Department of Health estimated the number of HIV and AIDS cases to be about 11,200, which is more than twice the reported cases. The prevailing social stigma associated with HIV is one of the reasons cited for the low testing and detection of HIV.


Malaria morbidity and mortality rates, on the other hand, dropped from 1990 to 2009, from 123 cases and 1.5 deaths per 100,000 population to 22 and 0.02, respectively. The continuous decline in morbidity and mortality due to malaria may be attributed to the continued implementation of the Malaria Control Program by the Department of Health, in collaboration with the local government units, non-government organizations, and communities using the disease-free zone initiative.


Meanwhile, there had also been improvements in the indicators for tuberculosis in recent years. Specifically, targets for case detection rate and treatment success rate had already been achieved in 2004 and have been sustained since then. Cure rate, on the other hand, is still slightly below the 85 percent national target but it would be feasible. All these improvements may be attributed to the strengthened implementation of the National Tuberculosis Control Program. Specifically, the adoption of the DOTS strategy since 1996 has contributed to the achievement of the program targets.

Number of HIV and AIDS cases by year, January 1984 to December 2009

Bar Chart

Source of data: HIV and AIDS Registry, National Epidemiology Center, Department of Health

UNDP's work in the Philippines

  • MSM and transgender groups lobbying for anti-discrimination legislation at the Pink SONA. (Photo: Samuel Genita, Jr.)

    Empowered communities push for anti-discrimination laws

    Sometime in the early part of 2000, while studying and working as a researcher in one of the major universities in the Philippines, Bemz Benedito wasmore

Targets for MDG6
  1. Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
    • HIV prevalence among population aged 15-24 years
    • Condom use at last high-risk sex
    • Proportion of population aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS
    • Ratio of school attendance of orphans to school attendance of non-orphans aged 10-14 years
  2. Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
    • Proportion of population with advanced HIV infection with access to antiretroviral drugs