THE Reproductive Health & Wellness Center (RHWC) has recorded 163 cases of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) in Davao City from January to April, this year.

Records showed that of the 163 cases, 135 were found to have been afflicted with HIV while 27 others have full-blown Aids. Of the total cases, 156 are males and seven are females. So far, Davao City has already 1,590 HIV-Aids cases since 1984.

Dr. Jordana Ramiterre, head physician of the RHWC, attibuted the increase in HIV-Aids cases to easier access to sex services, issue on sexual practices, and change of behavior among young generation.

Ramiterre said people vulnerable to the virus are those who engaged in risky sexual behaviors, casual sex, multiple partners, frequent change of partners and the same sexual relationship (on the economic aspect).

World Health Organization (WHO) defined HIV as a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system destroying their function. As the infection progress, immune system becomes weaker, and a person becomes vulnerable to infections.

It added that the most advanced stage of HIV infection is Aids. It can take 10 to 15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop Aids.

Antiretroviral drugs can slow down the process even further.

HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal/vaginal), transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

The virus can be prevented by limiting sex partners, have less risky sex, not to inject drugs, get tested, know your partner's status, and by using protection. But protection is not 100 percent helpful if a person is already HIV positive.

Ramiterre has been encouraging people to have their free HIV test at the RHWC and in the hospitals so as to address the increasing number of cases. (ICT)