AS OF December 2023, the number of pregnant women with HIV at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) has risen to 16, up from 12 in 2022, according to Nemfa Adorable, a nurse from the SPMC HIV-Aids Core Team.
The increase is attributed to enhanced testing and screening efforts, with pregnant women actively encouraged to undergo testing.
Arnie Villanueva, RN, unit manager of the HIV-Aids Core, said that despite catering to pregnant people living with HIV (PLHIV) from remote areas, the SPMC maintains a zero transmission rate from mother to child.
“That’s why SPMC has zero, zero transmission of mother to child so wala me nag [we do not have a] reactive or nag [even] positive pedia,” Villanueva said.
She emphasized the importance of closely monitoring the health of pregnant women under SPMC care to safeguard newborns, who undergo prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection.
Adorable said that the rise in cases is linked to increased testing, and besides pregnant women, the hospital also oversees the care of 13 pediatric PLHIV, ranging from one year old to 20 years old.
Based on the data of the Davao Center for Health Development Surveillance Unit the number of HIV and Aids cases in the Davao Region from January to August 2023 is 700.
Among the 700, 371 are from Davao City; 152 are from Davao del Norte; 68 from Davao del Sur; 45 from Davao de Oro; 38 from Davao Oriental; and 26 from Davao Occidental.
Since 1993 until August 2023 the surveillance unit has recorded 6, 736 cases of Aids and HIV.
Maria Teresa C. Requillo, RN, program coordinator of the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region for HIV and Aids, also said the increase in number is due to the several testing centers in the region.
She said that unlike before, there were only eight testing centers in the region.
“But now almost tanan na naa'y testing facility so highly accessible na atoang testing facility and it is free (But now almost all have a testing facility so it is now highly accessible and it is free),” Requillo said.
She, however, said that only public facilities offer free testing while for the private ones, the patients need to pay. She pointed out that many people now undergo tests and she sees this as a positive turn of events because the stigma against Aids and HIV is no longer as severe as before.
Other factors that contribute to the increase are the behavior of individuals, transactional sex, and same-sex intercourse. Requillo said that among the 6,736 cases, 50 percent of these were infected with HIV/Aids due to same-sex intercourse, it is then followed by people who are bisexual or whose partners are male or female; and lastly, people who are heterosexual. RGP