PALO, LEYTE (PNA) – The Department of Health (DOH) here cited the need to strengthen information dissemination about human immunovirus-acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV-AIDS), as Eastern Visayas is not exempted when it comes to regions with high infection cases.
DOH Undersecretary for Women, Children and Family cluster Janette L. Garin, who was here this week for the launching of the “DOH on Wheels: Kalusugan Pangkalahatan” roadshow, said that Eastern Visayas has 151 confirmed cases of persons with HIV and full-blown AIDS. 30 are female and 121 are male, she informed.
In Leyte, where the bulk of persons with HIV are recorded, the median age is 27, “better” when compared with other provinces in the country where the median is 21-24 years old. She also believes there are more people who are positive for the infection, whose conditions are documented.
“The figure we gave is just a figure per se because we believe that it is under declared,” she said, citing that in the Philippines, one person is estimated to be infected every hour.
“We cannot treat HIV at the moment but then we have medicines to ensure that they have strong resistance,” she added.
HIV-AIDS screening is offered for free at the Center for Health Development (CHD) regional office here, while a treatment hub has been identified at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, said DOH assistant regional director Paula Paz Sydiongco.
She added that cases are treated with confidentiality. There are trained personnel who handle HIV-AIDS cases.
Sydiongco said that for this year’s first quarter alone, they have recorded 20 new cases.
“A little more than half of the cases were from Leyte,” she added.
She also shared that before, most of the cases reported were of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) but now, there are cases of local infection attributed to same sex contact.
Chito Avelino, executive director of the Philippine National AIDS council (PNAC), emphasized that there are only three modes of HIV-AIDS transmission. These are through sex, blood contamination and from mother to child.
However, he added, infection can be prevented by getting the right information, avoiding risky behavior, and having one’s self tested right away if in doubt.
Avelino added that most of the cases in the country involve males having sex with males, illegal drugs injection and engaging in prostitution, especially female freelancers.
Cases are getting younger, between 15 to 29 years old, mostly male, he disclosed.
Based on the 2012 Global Aids Report, the Philippines is one of the nine countries worldwide that have more than 25 percent increase in cases in the last 10 years covering the 2001 to 2011 period.