DOH-10: Everyone at risk of HIV-AIDS

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014


THE Department of Health in Northern Mindanao (DOH-10) has again encouraged the public to be aware of the increasing number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive cases in Cagayan de Oro City.

“We have 30 new cases in the region. Only eight in Cagayan de Oro City and the 22 remaining are from other places. But still, this is alarming,” said Dr. Evelyn Magsayo, DOH-10 HIV-AIDS program manager, during the press conference for the 31st International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Mobilization (IACMM) held at a resort here Monday.

With a count of around 40 cases in 2012, DOH-10 said it reached up to 85 for last year.

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The health department’s statistics showed that the increase was doubled, but Magsayo said the figure did not at all paint a bleak picture on the HIV-AIDS cases in the region.

“This is actually a good thing, because we found these cases earlier than the past experiences we had,” Magsayo said.

DOH-10 said that most of the known cases are from men who have sex with men (MSM), still being the highest from the past years with an age bracket of 24 to 45 years old. Approximately 30 percent of the least aged are from the working group.

The agency added that 99 percent of the HIV cases are still from sexual contact, while one percent is from needle sharing, blood transfusion and mother-to-child transmission.

Sexual contact is either through vaginal-penile, penile-anal and/or oral, DOH-10 added.

‘Staying healthy, prevent transmission’

DOH, together with partners, has its Social Hygiene Clinic (SHC) that caters to all the needs of the people, whether HIV-positive or not, through their series of counseling and diagnosis.

“It is a client-friendly clinic. The people there that will assess are well trained in handling this kind of situation. Anybody can go there and, I suggest, everyone should get themselves checked, just to make sure lang,” Magsayo said.

Dr. Joselito Retuya, of the City Health Office, added that the current level of immune system of those people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (PLHIV) will only be ‘fattened up’ through the various programs SHC prepared for them.

There are four stages found in SHC: the pre-test counseling, drawing of blood, laboratory tests and post-test counseling.

“These stages are very important. The first and last, moreover, are so vital. Patients who will be tested positive with HIV will definitely need those because dropping the news at them is really devastating,” Magsayo added.

SHC in the region can be found at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC).

DOH constantly tells the public to follow the ‘ABCD’ that stands for Abstain, Be mutually monogamous, Condom, Don’t do drugs.

Currently, Retuya and his team have gone to places such as from barangays Bugo to Tablon, bringing the news with them through education and information dissemination especially those who are sex workers.

Free medications

“All medications are free,” Retuya said.

There are 5965 PLHIV who have been registered to 18 treatment hubs (SHC) all over the country. Those will have to take medications throughout their lifetime.

The government spends almost P8,000 per PLHIV annually. The medications, however, are not available in pharmacies.

Philhealth has also implemented an Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment Package (OHAT). This is to address the increasing number of persons with HIV-positive in the country.

DOH suggests to the PLHIV, recognized or not, to avail of this package.

On May 18, there will be candle lighting and forming of candles into a life-sized AIDS ribbon symbolizing DOH’s fight in preventing the widespread of HIV in the region.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 13, 2014.

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