While the HIV transmission rate among high-risk groups such as sex workers has decreased in the Philippines, prevalence is increasing among the general population and is becoming a threat for the country’s youth, Agence France-Presse reports.

“There really needs to be a greater government focus on education and prevention before it explodes,’ said AIDS advocate Roberto Ruiz, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1993 and sits on the board of trustees of Positive Action Foundation Philippines Inc.

According to the article, the Catholic Church’s opposition to sex education among youth and promotion of condoms pose a threat to HIV prevention since more that 80 percent of the country’s 90 million people are Roman Catholic.

About 40 to 45 cases of HIV/AIDS are reported each month in the southeast Asian country— nearly twice the numbers reported last year, said Soe Nyunt-u, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in the Philippines. The real numbers could be higher, he said, because many cases still go unreported due to stigma associated with the disease.