THIRTEEN of the 1,500 people who availed themselves of free HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) testing were found positive of the virus.

But Dr. Jonathan Neil Erasmo, Department of Health (DOH) 7 HIV and STD (sexually transmitted disease) prevention and control program manager, said the 13 suspected HIV carriers cannot be considered as confirmed cases until after a second test.

Erasmo told reporters the 13 were mostly male and between 21 and 32 years old.

Unprotected

Majority reportedly got the virus through unprotected sex.

If confirmed, the 13 can avail themselves of the National Government’s HIV treatment, including free anti-retroviral drugs.

Hospital

Free HIV treatment is offered at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).

But Erasmo said they were happy that there was an increase in awareness when it comes to voluntary HIV testing.

He told reporters yesterday that within the three weeks that they were conducting voluntary HIV testing in four hospitals in Cebu, 1,472 people have come for the tests.

Test centers

Government hospitals like the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), Mandaue District Hospital, Lapu-Lapu City Hospital and the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) served as testing centers.

Erasmo said they plan to expand the voluntary HIV testing program to other areas in the region. They will be in Siquijor on Monday.

Second

The DOH reported that Central Visayas came in second to the National Capital Region (NCR) with the most number of persons with HIV in the country.

In Central Visayas, Cebu remains on top of the list, with 67 persons confirmed to be living with HIV, and 1,872 others who have tested positive for HIV but have yet to show or feel symptoms.

Since 1984, at least 62 people from Central Visayas have died from HIV complications.