THE Department of Health (DOH) revealed an increase of patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) being treated at Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC).

Dr. Maria Lorena Santos, BGHMC chair of HIV and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Core Team, said that there are now 72 HIV cases recorded from 2006 until May of this year. These cases were recorded at BGHMC.

She said the hospital had three cases each in 2006 and 2007 while six cases each in 2008 and 2009. Five patients were found HIV positive in 2010 at BGHMC.

However, the number increased in 2011 wherein the hospital had 16 HIV positive patients. The number continues to increase in 2012 with 17 patients while this year has already 16 confirmed patients to be positive of HIV from January to May only.

Despite the increase, Santos said DOH authorities are even happy with the numbers because it only implies that patients are now revealing themselves to doctors which will facilitate easy monitoring. Santos further said it is now easy for them to conduct counseling to the HIV patients. Treatment is also easy with the patients coming out availing of the health benefits the government offers.

Santos said the client–initiated counseling now will help the patients a lot to slow down the progress of the illness to AIDS.

The HIV and AIDS core team chairman said among the 72, the youngest victim is 19 years old while the oldest is 56 years old. BGHMC record shows that 51 are males while 21 are females. Among the 51 males, 40 are homosexual, eight are heterosexual, and three are bisexual. On the other hand, among the 21 females, 14 are heterosexual and one is bisexual.

Among the origins of HIV positive patients are: five from Manila; 28 from Baguio City; one each from Abra, Pampanga, and Isabela; and five from Benguet. Santos revealed most of the patients are professionals.

“HIV has no cure. All HIV positive patients will ultimately progress to AIDS,” she said.

The hospital executive also advised public to take extra precautions when having sexual intercourse with somebody. She revealed that four main source of HIV are: unprotected multiple sexual intercourse; blood transfusion; mother to child transmission; and sharing of injectable needles.

She also urges a person with HIV illness to inform his partner on his disease before sexual intercourse because it is mandated under the Philippine law. She explains, if the partner was informed about the illness and yet, he still want to have sex with the patient, that is his choice. However, Santos said the two can still have sex but they have to use protective measures in order to avoid transmitting the illness to one another’s future partner.

DOH encourages citizens with HIV symptoms to visit any hospital in order to avail of the free medicines, free laboratory tests, and other free health services which are now being offered to HIV victims.