DOH, Baguio continue HIV surveillance

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013


THE Department of Health (DOH-CAR), in partnership with the AIDS Watch Council (Awac), through the Reproductive Health and Wellness Clinic (RHWC) of City Health Office prepare for the conduct of an Integrated HIV Behavioural and Serologic Surveillance System (IHBSS) in the city.

IHBSS aims to provide more information about the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the Philippines.

The strategy determines the extent of the epidemic and the virus` medium of dispersal in cities and rural areas. It also caters to HIV prevention, planning, and policy evaluation.

HIV is defined as a slowly replicating retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids), a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive.

In preparation for the HIV surveillance project, a briefing was conducted for doctors, nurses, and other health workers last May 9 here. They discussed ethical guidelines and technical protocols in interviewing respondents regarding safe sex practices and behaviors, Sexually Transmitted Disease (STI), and HIV knowledge and access to information, medical testing and Social Hygiene Clinics, and HIV/STI misconceptions.

City Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) head, Dr. Celia Flor Brilliantes, said that this year’s IHBSS focuses on Males having Sex with Males (MSMs) aged 15 and above, as they are the most vulnerable sector when it comes to HIV and other STIs. She explained that they have to do actions such as surveying in order to raise HIV awareness and prevention.

The survey will be random and unannounced. Voluntary blood extraction and testing would also be a part of the survey, Brillantes added.

IHBSS Team Leader Emilio Callao Jr. said that the city’s effort to conduct such surveillance is a way to inform respondents about the nature of HIV and other STIs. Aside from giving free condoms to each respondent, interviewers will also clarify misconceptions about the virus.

The results of the surveillance would be used in crafting guidelines for government intervention in curbing the long existing health issue of HIV/Aids, he added.

Combating HIV/Aids is one of the country’s commitments to the UN Millennium Development Goal.

At the end of 2011, 34.2 million people were living with HIV. That same year, some 2.5 million people became newly infected, and 1.7 million died of AIDS including 230,000 children.

In March 2013 alone, the Philippine HIV and AIS Registry reported 370 new cases of HIV in the country. This now brings to 12,791 the total reported HIV cases in the Philippines from for 1984 to 2013. (Carlito Dar)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 23, 2013.

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