THE human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is on the rise in Central Visayas.
According to Van Baton, Department of Health (DOH) 7 focal person for HIV/Aids (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), the state of HIV cases in the region is very alarming with three people getting infected with HIV every day.
HIV is the virus that causes Aids. People with HIV don’t necessarily have Aids.
HIV, when left untreated, destroys T cells that help protect an HIV-positive person from infections. Without treatment, it usually takes about a decade for someone with HIV to develop Aids.
A person with HIV will have Aids when he or she contracts dangerous infections or has a super low number of T cells. The condition leads to death over time.
“Do not delay (to get yourself tested for HIV) if you think you’re positive because every day and every hour that you’re positive with no treatment, every contact with someone means increasing the risk of transmitting it (HIV),” Baton said.
In the past, people thought that if a person tested positive of HIV, it was an automatic death sentence, hence the stigma. Sufferers were shunned, ostracized and condemned to live out the rest of their lives on the fringes of society. But that is no longer the case.
Treatment is available and it is free.
Already, the DOH has raised the number of treatment centers in Region 7 from three to 13 facilities.
Based on its records, 8,104 people were living with HIV in the region last year, and there was a seven percent increase in the first five months of this year.
If this trend continues, Baton said there will be an estimated 10,279 people living with HIV in the region and most of them will be found in Cebu, which has the highest number of HIV cases in Central Visayas.
However, the projected number does not include those who are not aware that they are living with the virus; people who contracted it through sexual transmission, especially those who engage in male to male sex, or the sharing of needles among drug addicts.
In the recently concluded midterm elections, candidates made no mention of HIV or Aids. Perhaps it’s time they and the community got involved to stop its spread by convincing people who are at risk to get tested.