HIV positive cases in Davao rise

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010


DAVAO CITY -- The number of HIV positive cases in this city continues to increase, with the majority involving men having sex with men, a recent study of the Department of Health (DOH) showed.

The study, which was conducted by the Integrated HIV Behavioral and Serologic Surveillance Findings (IHBSS) in November to December 2009, revealed that 12 out of 900 individuals with different high-risk behaviors were found positive of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

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Eleven of these new positive cases were categorized as men having sex with men (MSM), while the other one involves a registered prostituted woman.

DOH-Davao Regional Director Teogenes Baluma said the rise in the number of HIV positive cases in the city is considered very high and "we think there could be more cases that are not reported."

The data, released last January 2010, showed that out of the 900 who were tested for HIV, 300 are registered prostituted women, 300 are freelance prostituted women, and 300 are men who practice sex with other men.

Baluma said the 11 MSM who were found to be positive represent 3.6 percent out of the 300 MSM respondents.

Of the registered sex workers, Baluma said only one showed a status of intermediate HIV positive, while none of the freelance sex workers were found to be infected with the virus.

He also said that on checking the respondents' positivity on syphilis, one out of 900 showed to be positive who is under the MSM category.

Total cases

With the 12 new cases, Dr. Domilyn Villareiz, who spoke for City Health Office (CHO) head Dr. Joy Villafuerte, said the city now has 53 HIV positive cases.

Said data were consolidated from the Davao Medical Center HIV-Aids core team (Hact), CHO, and Alliance Against Aids in Mindanao Inc. (Alagad Mindanao) within the period of 1993 to 2009. They were prepared by the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center.

Baluma also said that of the 53 cases, 40 are males and 13 are females.

"Thirty-seven are alive; 28 males, nine females. While 16 have died; 12 are males and nine are females. These patients are within the age bracket of 19 to 44 years," Baluma said, adding that most of these HIV positive individuals are students, MSM, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), businessmen, employees, and guest relations officers (GROs).

"These persons have received medical attention and counseling from the DMC and Alagad Mindanao. They receive antiretroviral drugs and counseling from Alagad, which includes yung tulong para hindi sila ma-ostracize at magkaroon ng trabaho, as much as possible a normal life," he said.

Villareiz, for her part, said the affected individuals were also given retroviral drugs to strengthen their immune system.

"If your immune system is weak, then you are prone to all types of sicknesses. In fact, the top reason for the death of HIV or Aids patients is pneumonia or tuberculosis," she said.

Awareness

Baluma said the DOH and CHO will be heading a local initiative to advocate HIV awareness.

"We have received latest instructions from DOH Secretary Esperanza Cabral na this summer, on May, local units will conduct a seminar for 60 youths who will become advocates in their respective schools for the next school year," he said.

Asked whether the seminar would also involve issues on the reproductive health, Baluma said this would form a small part of the seminar.

"The focus will be on giving the youth ample knowledge to become advocates on preventing HIV. They would be taught how to become ambassadors to their schools, how to become peer counselors to their peers," he added.

Baluma was at the Kapihan sa SM media forum Monday to promote World Health Day Celebration dubbed Urbanization and Health. It will be celebrated locally from April 7 to 11. (JCZ/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Hiv positive cases davao rise

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