MORE than 1,000 bar workers and entertainers have registered with the Baguio Health Department as government tightened monitoring of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and its final stage, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids).
Alan Bando, Baguio Association of Bars and Entertainment Society (BABES) president, said that based on their monitoring, close to 1,400 bar workers and entertainers have registered with the Baguio Health Department for monitoring and issuance of health cards.
He said he believes there are still those who have not signed up with the government office.
“It would be easier for us to monitor bars and entertainers who may have acquired HIV-Aids so that we can do the necessary actions to support them with the help of government and none government organizations,” Bando said.
In May of this year, Dr. Celia Flor Brilliantes, head of the Baguio Health Department (BHD) social hygienic clinic, said they recorded 32 HIV-Aids cases in 2017 compared to only four in 2016.
“Based on our BHD data, only two of our 32 HIV cases are women. There were also three cases of straight men while the majority are men having sex with men," Brillianes said.
Since 1984, DOH-Cordillera said Baguio City has recorded the highest number of HIV cases in the region with 281 cases followed by Benguet with 45, Abra with 41, Kalinga with 11, Apayao and Ifugao with 10 cases, and Mountain Province with seven.
Of these cases, 200 were caused by male-to-male sex, 107 cases involved sex with males and females, and 89 were heterosexual cases.
The Baguio Health Department established a satellite treatment hub for persons with HIV-Aids in May of this year.
Among the regions in the Philippines, CAR ranked first in terms of knowledge in condom use as HIV prevention while in terms of knowledge sexual intercourse to one uninfected partner, the region ranked third.
Seven out of 10 women in the region, or 76.8 percent, know that limiting sexual intercourse to one uninfected partner can reduce the chance of contracting HIV.
Cordillera is also number one in terms of comprehensive knowledge in HIV prevention where one in five women surveyed was between 15 and 24 years old.
The Baguio Aids Watch Council (AWAC), in partnership with the Department of Health and the City Government, conducted free HIV testing at the City Hall lobby on Monday, November 26, as a preliminary activity for the observance of World Aids Day 2018 on December 1.
World Aids Day, which will mark its 30th year, aims to highlight the worldwide effort to combat HIV-Aids as well as to show support for those living with HIV and to remember those who have died from the infection.
Brillantes said the activity supports the 2018 World Aids theme, “Know Your Status”, which underscores the importance of HIV testing for effective anti–retroviral treatment and HIV infection control.
Baguio Center for Young Adults Executive Director Marlene De Castro, a pioneer AWAC member, said the importance of HIV testing activity through public awareness on HIV-Aids is gaining ground but the social stigma remains to be a concern.