THE Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao Region and the City Health Office (CHO) has recorded a total of sixty-five (65) Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) cases in Cagayan de Oro City from January to September this year.

Dr. Joey Retuya, CHO’s epidemiologist, said the number reflects the increase in the number of people who submit themselves to testing.

Retuya said many of those who tested positive were males who had sex with other males (MSM) adding that the number of females who contracted the virus has significantly decreased since the 1990s.

“Now we want to emphasize that MSMs are not necessarily tong mga bayot, they could also be straight guys who are willing to have sex with the both sexes. So please note that if we are not careful enough, we are all at risk,” Retuya said.

But Ian Baang, infectious diseases cluster nurse of the DOH, said that about 85 percent of MSMs in the region refuse to submit themselves to testing.

"They refused to know what's their HIV status, and what's most threatening is the ones who are affected with the disease are getting younger. In the country alone, the documented deaths of PLHIVs reaches to 1,309," Baang said.

With testing centers already established in the city, he said the CHO recorded the highest number of people for voluntary HIV testing and counseling.

“About 67 percent of the persons in the city who know they are at risk is nagpa-test na, but our target is to make it to 100 percent para gayud zero cases detection na and so we could focus on treating the persons living with HIV (PLHIV),” Retuya said.

Since 1988, Retuya said, the city has recorded a total 215 HIV-Aids cases.

Retuya said Cagayan de Oro City has the highest number of cases in the region followed by Iligan City, Valencia City, Ozamiz City, with Malaybalay City respectively.

Retuya said the CHO conducted 1,445 tests, 1,122 of which came from the city with th remaining figure coming from as far as the Caraga region and Manila.

Out of these, the total number of reactives/positives reached 73 persons, corresponding to a total of 3.5 percent HIV incidence rate in the city.

A report from DOH Northern Mindanao identified the ten top testing centers in the region where most people volunteer themselves for testing namely the Cagayan de Oro City SHC, Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), Polymedic Medical Plaza, RITM Satellite Clinic, Medisense Lab Center Inc., PDS PEME System International, and Cagayan de Oro Polymedic General Hospital.

Retuya noted that discrimination and stigma should be avoided to encourage more people to get tested.

"Untana gayud sa dili madugay, mapareha na ta sa ubang country na gaka-ubos na ug nihunong na ang pagsaka sa mga kaso," Retuya said.