THE Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) remains to be a problem that needs to be addressed as the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) Davao Region reported an increase in cases from January to March this year.

Based on the record obtained from the RHWC-Davao, 102 were found to have been afflicted with HIV while 23 others have full-blown Aids. Of the 125 total cases, 122 are males and three are females. In Davao City, a total of 1,552 HIV-Aids cases were recorded.

A cumulative data from 1993’s first case till present (March 2016) showed that of the 1,552 cases, 1,477 of which are males and 75 are females. In addition, there were 78 total numbers of deaths since the first case recorded in 1984 up to present.

Speaking at the I-Speak Forum at Davao City Hall yesterday, RHWC-Davao head physician Jordana Ramiterre said that vulnerable to the HIV-Aids are those who engaged in risky sexual behaviors like casual sex, having multiple partners and frequent change of partners.

Health Education and Promotion officer PrecySenoc said that the virus’ growth has turned out to be fast and furious from silent and growing in the previous years. She added that people afflicted with such virus are getting much younger.

Senoc said the youngest patient under their care is aged 13.

"Davao City is very much challenged in rising cases of HIV-Aids. The office received reported cases of [at least] six infections every week, and people being infected are getting younger," Senoc said.

In line with its prevention and education program, Senoc said the health officials urged barangay officials in Davao City to formulate a "Barangay Ordinance on HIV-Aids Prevention," wherein Brgy. Calinan has complied first.

"Right now they were coordinating with the Ligang Barangay in implementing preventive measures that will start in the grassroots level. This is to strengthen the policy measures, not only in the city, but in the barangay level," Senoc said.

Meanwhile, the issue on moralization of people infected by the virus, Senoc said, gave them a hard time encouraging other people with HIV-Aids to visit the centers for treatment because of the stigma of fear and discrimination.

Meanwhile, there are 13 testing centers in Davao Region and nine of these are concentrated in Davao City, Ramiterre said. She added that aside from the testing centers, all hospitals in Davao City are also open for testing.

The virus can be prevented by limiting sex partners, doing away from drugs especially those administered through syringes, getting tested, knowing your partner's status, and by using condom. But condom use is not 100 percent helpful if a person is already HIV positive. (Berchan Louie A. Angchay, AdDU intern)