REGIONAL July 26, 2012

Gay sex fuels HIV rise in Catholic Philippines

"This is a worrying explosion of HIV cases marked by a shift in the way the virus is transmitted…"

(Manila)  Gay sex in a conservative Catholic society where the influential church forbids the use of condoms is fuelling an alarming rise of HIV infections in the Philippines, experts warn.

The Southeast Asian country is facing a HIV epidemic, with sex between men making up nearly 90 percent of all new cases, according to the health department and the United Nations’ Development Programme (UNDP).

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A gay activist is silhouetted on a rainbow flag during a rally at the University of the Philippines in the town of Los Banos, Laguna province, south of Manila

Ten new infections are being detected every day, three times the rate of just a few years ago, the UNDP said.