By John Noel E. Herrera
The Department of Health (DOH) urged the public to get tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the country recorded 1,454 new cases in January 2023 alone.
The DOH stressed that the public should also practice safe sex by using condoms, or knowing the sexual history of their partners, as the most common cause of HIV around the world is unprotected sex.
A report from the health department stated that 422 individuals had advanced HIV infection at the time of diagnosis and there were 39 reported deaths already as the total number of cases has increased to 110,736 since January 1984.
It added that 86 out of the 1,453 new cases are teens, with 79 cases aged from 10 to 19 years old, and seven children aged below 10 years old.
In Iloilo province, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) earlier reminded the public to get tested and use contraceptives to prevent infection.
“Focus gid kita sa pag-practice sang safe sex, protected sex. Stick to one partner and of course, dapat mabal-an naton status sang aton partner,” Dr. Rodney Labis previously said.
He added that some testing centers in the province and city were free and they should not worry as their data will remain confidential.
The PHO said that it would be beneficial for everybody if more people would undergo testing as early detection means prevention for the public and early treatment for the infected individuals.
Latest available data from PHO showed that Iloilo province recorded 210 HIV cases with 28 deaths, and Pavia town accounted for the highest number of cases with 18, followed by Oton with 15 cases.
The most affected age group is 25 to 34 years old with 113 cases, followed by 15 to 24 years old with 48 cases; 35 to 49 years old (44 cases), and 50 and older with five cases.
Meanwhile, DOH-6 previously said that it would use additional strategies to reach out to and diagnose over 4,000 estimated population living with HIV in the region.
It added that they have deployed field staff to the barangay level for the community-based screening to reach out to the target PLHIV who has yet to get a proper diagnosis.
It is also important to seek early diagnosis, as the mode of transmission is not just limited to homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual, according to DOH-6.
There are three HIV Treatment Hubs/Primary Care and Certified RHIVDA Confirmatory Laboratories in the region – the Dr. Rafael Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Kalibo, Aklan, the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City, and the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City.
Other accredited treatment hubs also include the Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, Rep. Pedro G. Trono Memorial Hospital in Guimbal, Iloilo, the St. Paul’s Hospital Iloilo and The Medical City Iloilo, both in Iloilo City, and the Roxas City Health Office in Roxas City, Capiz.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines HIV as a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, and if not treated, can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, commonly during unprotected sex, or through sharing injection drug equipment.