WB, ADB open testing center for HIV, STD in Mandaue

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Saturday, August 23, 2014


A TESTING center for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and other sexually transmitted diseases opened recently in Mandaue City.

Located at the City Health Office, the Mandaue Wellness Center will offer not only free testing but also free counseling for men with HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Jerson See, president of Cebu Plus, said the facility will give men priority since women are already being served by the Social Hygiene Clinic of the City Health Office.

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“We have to target a specific population because of our limited resources,” See told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

The facility, which opened last Aug. 14, was funded by the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Growing

See said the Department of Health has listed Mandaue as one of the cities with a growing number of HIV cases.

Data on HIV cases in Mandaue were not available yesterday.

HIV incidence in 33 countries have declined between 2001 and 2009 but it is rising in seven countries, including the Philippines, according to the Philippine National Aids Council factsheet.

From January to March this year, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 1,432 new HIV cases nationwide.

Central Visayas accounts for 17 percent of new HIV cases, the DOH 7 said. Ninety percent of these cases are in Cebu Province.

Turnover

A public-private partnership project, the center will be turned over to the City after one year and four months, said See.

The Cebu Plus was subcontracted to run the center by the Population Services International, the organization tapped by WB and ADB put up the facility.

A similar facility was established in the cities of Cebu, Taguig, Parañaque and Mandaluyong under the WB's Big Cities Project.

“The rise of HIV cases in these cities is alarming,” Dr. Joselito Bital, ADB consultant, said during the facility's opening.

City Health Officer Edna Seno said studies by other groups show that several persons in Mandaue have tested positive for HIV, but her office has yet to conduct a survey.

Stigma

The center, renovated at a cost of P500,000, is located inside the City Health Office Compound in Barangay Centro.

See said the stigma placed on people with HIV or those undergoing tests for HIV should be addressed.

“By getting tested, one shows that he or she is responsible for his or her health,” he said.

Aside from sex, the virus can also be transmitted through blood transfusion and needle-sharing.

The opening was graced by City Councilor Benjamin Basiga, chair of the council's committee on health, who read a message of Mayor Jonas Cortes; Mariluz Tejares, Big Cities Project team leader; and Dr. Eden Divinagracia, executive director of the Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare Inc.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 23, 2014.

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