DOH holds HIV surveillance

THE Department of Health (DOH) and other agencies held a random human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) surveillance to determine the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/Aids) cases in Cagayan de Oro City.

Since last week the Integrated HIV Behavioral and Serologic Surveillance System (IHBSSS) and the group Tingog CdeO rounded up the different areas of the city to spot and identify persons engaging in men having sex with men (MSM), aged 15 and up, to achieve its research goal of 300 respondents in a period of one month.

Renante Pacheco Namocatcat, Tingog CdeO chairman, said the DOH chose the MSM subjects as they are the most vulnerable when it comes to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Namocatcat said the on-going IHBSSS strategy determines the extent of the epidemic and the virus medium of dispersal in the city.

It also caters to HIV prevention, planning and policy evaluation considering that the city is considered as one of the “hotspot” areas of having a high rate of HIV/Aids cases.

He said at least 129 respondents have been gathered on their eighth day of conducting the IHBSSS in different bars such as Park Cafe, Eclipse, Happy Tee, and Gentlemen’s Club, Chai Bodia, Silver Rain, Pulse, The Edge Bar, and other watering holes along Corrales St.

Namocacat said out of those 129 random respondents, 40 declined the survey. Some of them belonged to the middle to upper class strata.

He said the individuals approached were not forced to become samples as they are covered under the confidentiality section of the Republic Act 8504 or Aids prevention and control act of 1998.

The respondents who voluntarily submitted for the IHBSSS were asked to answer a questionnaire. If they passed the critical questions, they were asked for an immediate blood sampling for Syphilis and HIV test in their mobile laboratory, he said.

Namocatcat said the result of the blood samples of the respondents will be sent to the DOH main office for further processing.

He said the respondents will be provided with strict confidentiality. All those who underwent the blood testing were not even asked their names; they were only given a privilege card or respondent code.

Namocatcat said the code will be their access to the results of the tests forwarded from the head DOH office.

u201cThe respondents will be advised to visit the city health office under the safe keeping of Dr. Joey Retuya for them to get the results,” he said.

Should a respondent be found positive of HIV, he or she will be given a confidential psycho-social counselling and free retroviral treatments.

In a study on HIV/Aids conducted by the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, the reports showed people infected with HIV-Aids are those of the younger age.

There are 1,089 people living with HIV/Aids in 2013. Most of them are between 22 and 29 years old.

The study also cited the social media’s contribution to the changing and evolving views on casual sex.

Dr. David Mendoza, head of the DOH’s Regional Epidemiology, Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit (Resdru) in Northern Mindanao said, the eight cases for the first quarter of 2013 is alarming and Kagay-anons should be aware of this.

Mendoza said the department is happy, because its campaign against HIV-Aids has been effective since the stigma of the disease is slowly fading causing more people to come out for a voluntary screening.

The voluntary screening has improved the department’s database that resulted to getting more people educated on the deadly disease.

He said persons suspected with HIV could voluntarily approach the testing center for monitoring and be provided with confidential counselling session and free retro viral treatment which can prolong the patients’ lives.

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