Advice to Filipino Seafarers: Take HIV Test
Filipino seamen specifically those with active sex life abroad are encouraged to have themselves tested for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The advice was given by a party list representative, Congressman Arnel Ty who said the HIV test is necessary to ensure the safety of their partners at home.
Rep. Arnel Ty said, in a news release, “It s not exactly a secret that many sailors are exceptionally vulnerable to HIV, owing to their easy access to commercial sex services overseas, plus they have the money to pay for it. e have reason to believe many of these HIV-positive OFWs may be sailors. “
The congressman mentioned the paid sex workers that usually board visiting ships in foreign ports. He also stressed that the medical examination is not required for Filipino seafarers who are returning to work for the same employer or shipping company.
“As a precaution, we would encourage these sexually active sailors to voluntarily undergo HIV-testing every time they come home, for the sake of their partners here. Also, the earlier they get diagnosed, the sooner they can seek treatment,” Ty said.
They usually get tested only once, shortly before they are initially recruited by the employer. After that, the sailors go abroad for a few months, come home for a furlough, and then go back to work without any subsequent health checks,” he added.
Apparently, more than 350,000 Pinoy seamen are employed in foreign ocean-going vessels at any given time. Ty informed that as of May 30, 1,921 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been diagnosed as HIV-positive.
The number comprises 20 percent of the 9,669 cases in the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry. Ty further said that 77 percent 1,488 of the OFWs who are HIV-positive were males with the median age of 35 years.
Of the 1,921 HIV-positive OFWs, he said 97 percent (1,859 cases) were infected due to sexual contact, and 85 percent (1,631 cases) were asymptomatic or did not show any symptoms of infection.
Ty represents the LPG Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA). He is one of the authors of House Bill 5312, which seeks P400 million to jumpstart a new HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Plan.