16 die of Aids in Davao City

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

SIXTEEN people died of due to complications brought by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids) in Davao City, the Department of Health (DOH)-Southern Mindanao office reported Thursday.

Two of the victims died this year.

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Dr. Cemellie Sabay of DOH-City Health Office (CHO) and Dr. Jordana Ramiterre of the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC)-CHO said that based on consolidated data from the Alliance Against Aids (Alagad)-Mindanao, DOH, CHO, and Davao Medical Center-HIV/Aids Core Team, the city as of April this year has 54 registered Aids patients and 16 deaths.

Majority of these cases involved men having sex with men, Ramiterre said during I-Speak media forum at City Hall.

The 54 cases do not include the results of a DOH-Davao study last year that showed 11 new Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases and one whose result was between positive or negative.

"That study conducted in 2009 was made as an opportunity to know how we are now in the city when it comes to Aids and HIV. It was not really meant as a case finding study but rather to become something that we would base on our next actions. However, those 900 respondents who joined in the study were given numbers for them to contact us if they would want the result. When they have contacted us and would then become a patient, then we can record their case as part of the 54," Ramiterre said.

Ramiterre also said that HIV is a stage where there are no physical symptoms visible, whereas in Aids, the disease is manifested with malignancies and infections. Between HIV and Aids, there is a window period of as much as five years, "thus it was very important that the health agencies know the facts early on."

Sabay also disclosed that recent data from the National Aids Registry under the National Epidemiology Center (NEC)-DOH posted 84 Aids cases from the city.

"This means that the NEC has recorded cases that the DOH did not record. Still, what we are actually recording is considered just the tip of the iceberg. It could be that the actual number of those who have HIV or AIDS is times three the data that we have," Sabay said.

Sabay added that the NEC has posted three Aids cases from Tagum City, two from Sto. Tomas, two from Panabo City, and one each from the municipalities of Padada, Mati, Lupon, Glan, Dugayan, Digos, Carmen, and Asuncion.

"This consolidated data from 1984 to 2010 to a total of 124 cases in the Southern Mindanao region. From 2007 to 2010 we saw the highest rise of Aids cases, as there were 99 reported cases within the said period," Sabay said.

The 124 cases, according to the NEC data, are within the age bracket of 20 to 30 years old referring to 62 people or 63 percent of the total; while 28 percent of the total are the minorities or the ends of the age bracket scale, the youngest of which is six years old and the oldest is 52 years old.

Of the 124 cases, one case was recorded as mother to child transmission, 15 were overseas Filipino workers, 40 were homosexuals, 28 were bisexuals, and 26 were heterosexuals.

"Aids can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. The great majority of reason how it is acquired however is really through unprotected sex and drug use. We again say that it is not who you are but what you do which poses you the risk of having Aids. As of now the DOH has hired 60 students between the ages of 18 to 24 years old who conducts Aids seminars in the barangays and will become advocates against AIDS in their schools this school year," Sabay said.

"The greatest obstacle here is behavior. We are doing what we can to educate people but somehow education is not reflecting to behavior. Ang malaking kaway natin ay ang behavior. On our part we are doing more one the education but really the people should be aware of their behavior," Ramiterre said.

Ramiterre reiterated the "ABCDE" of Aids prevention. "It's not just ABC but ABCD and E. A means abstinence from sex, Be faithful, Condom use, Do not use drugs, and Education," she said.

The two doctors also called on those who wish to have checkups as the DMC (now called Southern Philippines Medical Center) offers free medical checkup.

Sabay and Ramiterre promoted HIV/Aids prevention in line with the 27th International Aids Candlelight memorial and mobilization (IACMM) set every 3rd Sunday of May.

"This year's theme is 'Many Lights for Human Rights' which is meant to promote both global solidarity and the need for collective action around HIV and human rights. We will be conducting a foot parade from the Davao Light and Power Company office at Ponciano St. to the People's Park," Sabay said.

"This is to remember and honor those who are infected, affected and who have died of HIV and Aids; to raise social consciousness about infection; to influence local and national policies; and to create community dialogue about HIV and Aids prevention, treatment, care, and support," Ramiterre said. (JCZ)

16 die aids davao city

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