DECEMBER 1 has been declared World AIDS Day in 1988 after the HIV or Human Immunodeficiency virus was been discovered and officially declared as the cause of the much-feared and still global disease. Not much to be celebrated in the Philippines considering that our country has now the fastest growing rate of HIV cases, having overtaken Thailand in Asia. While the cases worldwide has stabilized into a plateau-like pattern, with some countries showing an enviable downtrend, the Philippines has attracted the attention of a very worried World Health Organization.

Indeed, with all the reasons. There are now almost 37 million HIV cases in the entire world, with the Philippines contributing to that alarming statistics. Of that number, 1912 Filipinos have died of AIDS. Now, there are 26 Filipinos diagnosed to have HIV every day, and it is projected that one in ten of them would have full blown disease. Since January up to October 2016, 382 Filipinos have died, apparently with AIDS and its complication as the cause of their demise. What is more bothersome is that the newly-diagnosed case involved the 15-30 age groups.

Our health workers- diligent and dedicated towards the control of the spread of the disease- have been working with sociologists and psychologists as well as epidemiologists as to why the very significant and scary increase in new cases of HIV among our population. Reasons were forwarded-like lack of awareness, ignorance- others explained the reluctance of couples to use protective mechanisms or gadgets in their love-making, careless unprotected sex- and sad, because even when told that with all the signs and symptoms the person may have HIV, he/she does not know where to seek medical help, on top of the fear as well as the reluctance to go, because of the stigma attached to the disease.

We all know now that the HIV virus is transmitted by the exchange of body fluids especially seminal fluid, blood and during child delivery if the pregnant woman is infected. In whatever way, a person may have gotten the virus, the important thing to emphasize now, and to tell our readers, friends and patients is that, a diagnosis of HIV is not a death sentence. Early diagnosis and the willingness to seek medical attention plus an obedient attitude to follow strictly the advice of their doctors in terms of taking the ART- anti retroviral therapy- plus a change in lifestyle- devoted one-to-one loyal sexual relationship, use of protective gadgets in lovemaking, then the patient should enjoy a good, healthy life, just like anyone of us.

That said, we join the world in curbing the rise of HIV and AIDS. Let's hope and pray the December 1 in the years to come will bring us reasons to celebrate with joy! Cheers!