THE Department of Health (DOH) in Western Visayas has recorded 451 persons with human immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/Aids) in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City.

The number is part of the 1,211 total cases in the region, covering the period from 1984 up to February 2016.

Events related to the 33rd International Aids Candlelight Memorial Day themed, “Engage, Educate, Empower,” are being held across the nation and the world since last week.

Dr. Elvie Villalobos, head of Infectious and Environmental Health Cluster of DOH Region 6, told Sun.Star Bacolod that currently, Negros Occidental and Bacolod City both rank second in terms of the number of HIV/Aids positive cases in province and city categories in the whole region.

Villalobos said that in Negros Occidental alone, the agency has recorded 219 positive HIV/Aids cases.

Of which, 183 cases are asymptomatic, or those patients who have been exposed to the illness but do not have any symptoms, while 36 are with Aids indications.

DOH records showed that the Province of Iloilo has the highest number of positive cases, at 220, comprised of 182 asymptomatic and 38 Aids cases.

Following Negros Occidental is Capiz with 88 cases; Aklan, 76; Antique, 47; and Guimaras, 24.

For highly-urbanized city category, records further showed that Bacolod City has 232 cases comprised of 195 asymptomatic and 37 with Aids, followed by Iloilo City with 305 cases, where 264 are asymptomatic and 41 with Aids.

In 2014 to 2015, DOH noted an increase of 53 percent in the number of HIV/Aids cases in Western Visayas. The agency has yet to determine the increase for 2015 to 2016.

“Our records showed that there are more high-risk persons in highly urbanized cities where most social and recreation venues are situated,” Villalobos said, but noted that “these are just recorded cases thus, there might still be patients who have not undergone testing.”

For Bacolod City, out of 300 high-risk persons only three percent were tested.

In terms of death due to HIV/Aids, DOH recorded 143 cases in the region from January 1986 to February 2016. Of which, 32 were from Negros Occidental and 18 from Bacolod City.

Moreover, the DOH noted that sex remains as the most common cause of HIV/Aids transmission in the region, at 99 percent.

Of this percentage, 41 percent are men having sex with men; 32 percent are bisexual; and the remaining 26 percent are heterosexual. Other means of transmission are through blood transfusion and sharing of syringe.

Aside from test submission for early detection, Villalobos said they constantly urge the public, especially those considered as high-risk individuals, to abstain from sex, being faithful to the partners, properly use protection like condom, and avoid the use of drugs.