DOH: 139 HIV-related deaths in Q1 of 2018, 66 in April alone

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) - The health department reported 139 cases of deaths linked to a virus commonly transmitted through sexual contact for the first quarter of 2018, with 66 reported in April alone. All of the 66 were male.

The Department of Health (DOH) released their April 2018 report on Tuesday indicating that there were 3,730 cases of diagnosed individuals with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for the first four months of the year.

Of the total number of reported cases, 3,553 were male and 177, female.

The report put April's number of deaths at the height of the epidemic with only 30 reported deaths in January, and, 22 and 21 in February and March, respectively. All monthly statistics were dominantly male with a constant trend of above 90% for men who died due to the disease.

The month for the most cases of diagnosed individuals reported however, remains in January with 1,021 cases, followed by April with 924, March with 912, and February with 871 cases.

The first quarter results showed 32% (1,180 cases) of the diagnosed individuals were from Metro Manila while 17% (617) were from Region 4A. Region 3 followed with 10% (386), Region 7 with 9% (340), and Region 11 accounted for 5% (189), while 27% (1,018), were spread out to rest of the country.

For the 66 males who died with HIV, the most common mode of the virus' transmission was through strict male-to-male sexual contact resulting to 38 deaths. The rest were divided between sexual contact with females alone, and sexual contact with both sexes.

The individuals who died with HIV were from 15 to 34 years of age.

DOH said other modes of transmission include sharing of infected needles, blood transfusions, and mother-to-child transmissions.

According to DOH, male-to-male sexual contact has been the primary source for HIV since the disease made its way to the country in 1984. There were a total of 26,863 victims of HIV who were strictly engaged in male-to-male sex out of 48,415 diagnosed men since January 1984 until April 2018.

The number of female cases have also been increasing however, with the 177 individuals reported this year being two times the number of diagnosed compared to the same period of 2013 (72), five years prior.