10-15 HIV cases a month in Davao City

THE trend of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases in Davao City ranges from 10 to 15 cases per month, an official of the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) of the Davao City Health Office (CHO) said.

Dr. Jordana Ramiterre, chief of RHWC, said this has gone "very alarming."

In fact, she said 60 out of 621 persons who subjected themselves for testing turned positive of the virus for the first quarter of 2013.

Majority of them are males engaged in sex with other male (MSMs), she said.

However, she said not all those who tested are from Davao City, as people living outside the metropolis also availed of their testing and counseling services.

She said the city recorded a total of 570 cases of HIV since 1992 until present, 42 of them died, while Davao region recorded a total of 672 cases since 1992.

Ramiterre said the number is just based on the people who underwent their testing and counseling.

The RHWC serves from 50 to 100 clients per day, she said.

She said women in entertainment bars are the center's regular clients who undergo screening for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV twice a month.

The CHO official said these ladies even attend their seminars for prevention and control.

However, the RHWC head said they are also encouraging the “freelance” sex workers to subject themselves for screening.

"Nagkalisud na ang panahon. Wala na sila sa dalan," Ramiterre said.

In an earlier interview, Jeanette Ampog, executive director of NGO Talikala, said the proliferation of mobile phones make it harder to track young prostituted women as they are no longer found on streets as they are now being contacted through text messages.

She said children in prostitution are usually freelancers. These include the "akyat barko" in the city’s ports and the so-called "tuition girls."

Ramiterre said it is alarming on their part to extend their services to these people.

"This is really a challenge sa amoa. We want to give the services but lisud sila kab-uton," Ramiterre said.

She said fear of stigma and discrimination are the main reasons why people are reluctant to undergo HIV testing.

She said these are the factors that contribute to the spread of the epidemic.

Meanwhile, she said the city has a total of 212 persons living with HIV accessing the free Anti-Retroviral

Drugs for HIV treatment at HIV-AIDS Core Team (Hact) in Southern Philippines Medical Center.

Hact also provides free CD4 Count. (ANC)
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