PIA News Service - Saturday, June 8, 2013



DOH-CHD Caraga briefs media on HIV-AIDS updates

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY, June 8 (PIA) – The Department of Health – Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) projects a rise in the number of persons with Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection (HIV) in 2013 if sexual practices of those most vulnerable to the disease remain unchanged.

Dr. Gerna Manatad, Regional Epidemiologist of DOH-Caraga said that the projected number of HIV cases in 2012 was 23,922 in the country. In 2013, the projection is 28,072. This will be higher if the public won’t be conscious enough and take precautionary measures in their sex life. "We should always be aggressive in our campaign to keep people be reminded of this disease that may put their lives at risk," she said.

In Caraga, 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. For the first quarter of 2013, there were 3 cases recorded, 2 in Agusan del Norte and 1 in Surigao del Sur.

“The people living with HIV in Caraga are mostly males with 91 percent and with age ranges from 18 to 67 years old. 91 percent also identified themselves are MSM (men sex with men) and 12 percent are Overseas Filipino Workers,” said Manatad.

She further revealed 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 and not know it.

“In time with the 30th International AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) Candlelight Memorial held last May 19, 2013 with the theme 'In Solidarity,' respective local government units in the region are initiating various activities on their level to better reach the grassroots and enhance information dissemination and cooperation among locals,” said Manatad.

Manatad added that the DOH-CHD Caraga in close coordination with the Municipal Health Office of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte has conducted a short program on May 24, 2013 followed by a Mobile Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) for HIV as part of their advocacy in line with the said memorial. “The department together with the City Health Office here and Love Radio successfully conducted the Mobile VCT parallel to Love Radio’s Papa Jack Live Concert held at the Capitol grounds to further enhance the HIV screening availability by bringing program closer to the public,” she said.

Meanwhile, the DOH also 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 as their campaign to the general public to prevent HIV. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)