FROM being limited to Cebu City, the cases of injecting drug users (IDUs) afflicted with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is slowly creeping in other areas of the province.
In an interview at the sidelines of the HIV, AIDS and The Media seminar in Palawan, Gerard Belimac of the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that the documented cases of IDUs with HIV have already spilled to 11 other towns and cities in the Cebu province.
“It’s no longer confined in Cebu City only and this is not a good development,” said Belimac, who heads the DOH-National AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention and Control Program.
The list of the 11 cities, though, was not immediately available.
Belimac said the number of HIV-infected IDUs have risen to 120 after finding cases of HIV-infected IDUs in 11 other localities in Cebu City.
To recall, figures from the January to March 2010 Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry showed that there are only 68 recorded cases of IDUs with HIV, all of which come from Cebu City.
Belimac noted that all of the 120 cases are found to be unemployed with the youngest being a 15-year-old male.
With the recent development, the health official said IDUs might soon become the biggest contributor to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which is currently being held by male-having-sex-with-male (MSMs).
“It’s really a network. They know the shooting galleries and they go there for pot sessions. If we don’t do something to stop this immediately, all IDUs will become infected with HIV. We cannot let that happen,” Belimac stressed.
Since January 1984, the HIV/AIDS Registry has already recorded some 5,123 HIV cases, with 841 already having progressed into full-blown acquired immune-deficiency syndrome (Aids). (AMN/Sunnex)