ORMOC CITY — The City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) here has recorded an increase in the number of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases, prompting the local government to intensify the monitoring of infected persons.
Elsie Jaca, Disease Surveillance Officer, noted that the local trend follows that of the national average of 30 cases per day in 2017, compared to the average of 26 HIV cases per day last year.
She said that from January to July this year, there were 7,000 individuals who underwent voluntary HIV testing in Eastern Visayas, with more than 2,500 coming from Ormoc.
Half of the 14 new HIV reactive cases in the region are coming from Ormoc City, aged 15 to 34. These cases are still not reflected on the national HIV/AIDS registry, the surveillance officer added.
Statistics show that in Region 8, there have been a total of 335 HIV cases and 48 cases of AIDS from 1984 up to present. To date, Ormoc has one Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) case.
Jaca emphasized that there could be more, as these do not include yet the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the city.
She added that monitoring the disease remains a ‘tough challenge’ because of the stigma that causes fear and depression among people which hinders them from undergoing HIV test.
She also said that those identified to be ‘positive’ cannot be forced to undergo treatment as forcing them is a violation of their rights and is punishable by law.
CESU reported that modes of transmission include ‘unprotected’ male to male and male to female sex, sharing of infected needles in intravenous drug injections, and mother to child transmission.
“There is always hope for HIV [patients]. . . you can still live longer as long as you cooperate in the treatment,” emphasized Ma. Lourdes Lampong of the city health office. She said that this is what they always reiterate during counseling sessions to avoid depression of the subject.
Lampong added that in their campaign to combat HIV/AIDS, they are tapping the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community to become peer counselors to educate their fellow.
Presently, the city health office has free HIV test kits and is encouraging suspected individuals to seek early testing and counselling in their office. PNA-northboundasia.com