Religious conservatism and restrictive policies in the Phillipines that the Duterte administration has inherited are fueling a rising HIV epidemic in the Philippines, particularly among men who have sex with men, say Human Rights Watch.
Condoms are not currently generally available in the Phillipines.
The report said Philippines has outstripped its Asia Pacific neighbours in terms of HIV prevalence, with statistics showing a tenfold increase in cases recorded over the last five years. It said last year, the Philippine Health Department reported that at least 11 cities recorded high HIV prevalence rates of more than 5 percent among the MSM, with Cebu City – the country’s second-largest city – recording a staggering 15 percent prevalence rate.
The numbers were markedly higher than the overall prevalence rate for the Asia Pacific region, which was just 0.2 percent, as well as the rate in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has the most serious HIV epidemic in the world but has a rate of 4.7 percent for those in that group.