Jul 11, 2013

HIV-AIDS cases in the country rising

Manila Bulletin – Tue, Jun 11, 2013

BUTUAN CITY - The Department of Health expects the number of Filipinos with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection (HIV) to increase further this year, unless sexual practices of those most vulnerable to the disease are corrected.

"Both male and female can avoid contracting HIV-AIDS if they will practice safe sex. We should always be aggressive in our campaign to keep people reminded of this disease that may put their lives at risk," said Dr. Gerna Manatad, Regional Epidemiologist of DoH-Caraga Region 13.

Based on the DoH record gathered, the number of HIV cases in 2012 was 23,922 in the country. "But, In 2013, the projection is 28,072," she added.

In Northeastern Mindanao alone (Caraga region), there were a total of 32 HIV cases recorded - 13 in Agusan del Norte, 8 in Agusan del Sur, 6 in Surigao del Norte and 5 in Surigao del Sur. "Most of them are males," she said.

For the first quarter of 2013, there were already 3 recorded new cases in the region - 2 in Agusan del Norte and 1 in Surigao del Sur, the DoH-13 said.

She said people living with HIV in Caraga region are 91 percent males and with ages ranging from 18 to 67 years old. At least 91 percent also identified themselves as MSM (men sex with men) and 12 percent are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW's).

The region's Epidemiologist further disclosed that among the behaviors that put Filipinos at risk for HIV are the following: younger age of first sex; younger Filipinos try injecting drugs; more males engage in unprotected anal sex; unprotected sex with more than one sexual partner; most injecting drug users share needles; and few voluntarily get tested for HIV and know their HIV status - so many may be spreading HIV without knowing it.

"All respective local government units in the region must initiate various activities on their level to better reach the grassroots and enhance information dissemination and cooperation among locals about the dreaded disease," said Dr. Manatad.

The DoH-CHD Caraga Region 13 spearheaded by Regional Director Ariel I. Valencia, in close coordination with the LGU's will implement the all-out information dissemination drive against the dreaded disease.

The DoH-13 has intensified it's A.S.A.P. (Awareness and advocacy; Surveillance and strategic information; Access to basic and comprehensive prevention services, testing, and treatment; and Partnership in policies, programs, and projects) Strategy campaign to prevent HIV.