The number of newly-diagnosed HIV-infected Filipino migrant workers increased by 33% in January after 90 workers were diagnosed with the disease.

According to Aniceto Bertiz III, member of the Philippine House of Representatives, the number of HIV cases among migrant workers increased by 33%. In January 2018, 68 cases were recorded, while 90 cases were recorded in the same month this year, Manila Standard reported.

“The January cases brought to 6,345 the cumulative number of Filipino migrant workers found living with HIV since the government began passive surveillance of the virus in 1984,” Bertiz said.

Bertiz said Filipino migrant workers now comprise 10% of the 63,278 confirmed cases listed in the National HIV/AIDS Registry as of January. Of the 6,345 migrant workers in the registry, 86% or 5,741 were male with a median age of 32 years.

The 874 female migrant workers in the registry had a median age of 34 years. Bertiz said 72% of the male patients were infected by having sex with men.

Bertiz urges the Department of Labor and Employment to deliver “highly improved support” to the growing number of migrant workers with HIV as mandated by the new AIDS Prevention and Control Law that took effect on January 25.

He said that under the law, the economic, social and medical support is to be extended to all migrant workers, regardless of employment status and stage in the migration process.

“The preventive education seminar is to be provided for free and at no cost to migrant workers or to the staff concerned,” he said.