In December 2009, 125 new HIV cases were confirmed by the DOH, a staggering 232% increase compared to the same period last year (n=38 in 2008). Seventy-three percent of HIV-positive individuals are male, and sexual contact accounts for 90% of HIV transmission. The infections are concentrated among sexual workers, MSM, IDUs, and overseas contract workers.
Current trends in Philippine HIV infection are shifting to MSM and younger populations; the age range associated with the most infections has shifted from 30 to 39 years of age to 20 to 29 years of age. Infection through homosexual contact increased from 40% in 2008 to almost 70% in 2009.
Metropolitan Manila, the main urban center of the Philippines, is composed of 15 cities and reflects the national housing situation. As in some developing countries, Metropolitan Manila as an urban center is sprawling with pockets of residential and slum communities interspersed with commercial and business districts. According to the United Nations, 11.4 million (20%) of the national urban population of 57 million (64%) is in Metropolitan Manila, and 16.5 million (30%) of that urban population are said to be living in slums. Sixty-five percent of the country's population is urbanized with a slum to urban population rate of 44%.
According to the 2005-2010 Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP), the country's housing backlog is at 946,466 units, while the housing need is at 3.76 million units. The government's goal is to provide 1.2 million units of housing, which only represents 30% of the total housing need. Meanwhile at least 21,047 families living in waterways are due for relocation. Many causes are associated with the housing shortage, including rapid urbanization and rising urban poverty; high cost of land and building materials; poor implementation of existing policy; and lack of government funds and capacity.
No existing studies document the housing situation or even the socioeconomic status of PLWHA in the Philippines. A community survey conducted among 54 PLWHA found that 64% either rent their homes or live with family and friends, while more than half of the respondents were unemployed and living below the poverty line. In the current economic climate, coupled with the debilitating effects of the disease, acquiring adequate employment to support the basic needs of shelter, food, and medicine is difficult, and many resort to staying with relatives or constructing makeshift shelters in squatter communities.
The main focus of the government is to partner with the private sector to provide the poor with shelter, while HIV/AIDS prevention focuses primarily on awareness-raising, treatment, care, and support. While there are a myriad of government agencies and civil society organizations addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic or the housing crisis, no organization addresses the housing needs of disadvantaged groups such as the elderly, disabled, or PLWHA.
Left: Slum conditions in Manila. Above: The house of a Pinoy Plus member, an association of HIV-positive individuals.
Advocate testimony provided by Nicasio de Rosas of the Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies and TLF Share Collective. Photos provided by Nicasio de Rosas and the John J. Carrol Institute on Church and Social issues.
Farr, Anna C. and David P. Wilson, An HIV Epidemic is Ready to Emerge in the Philippines, Journal of the International AIDS Society: 13(16), 2010.
Karaos, Anna Marie and Gerald Nicolas, Overview of the General Situation in the Philippines, SALINDIWA, PHILSSA, 2008.
National Economic and Development Authority, Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan, 2009.
UN-Habitat, Country Programme Document: Philippines, 2008-2009.
WHO, UNAIDS & UNICEF, Epidemiological Fact Sheet on HIV/AIDS, Philippines, 2008.