7 die of HIV/AIDS in General Santos City

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Health personnel here have recorded seven confirmed deaths since January due to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

Dr. Mely Lastimoso, coordinator of the City Health Office’s (CHO) Social Hygiene Clinic, said Wednesday the patients succumbed to various disease complications triggered by “full-blown” AIDS.

Lastimoso said most of them were already suffering from the advanced stages of the disease when they submitted themselves for testing.

“Some only came to us when they already have severe opportunistic infections,” she said in an interview over a local television station.

Lastimoso said the most common infections were tuberculosis, severe pneumonia, and skin-related diseases. Others died of dehydration and related symptoms after suffering from severe diarrhea.

Due to the late diagnosis, the official said the patients were not able to get antiretroviral or ARV drug treatment early and already too weak then to undergo treatment.

Lastimoso said an HIV/AIDS patient’s life could be prolonged through immediate ARV treatment after the initial diagnosis.

The Department of Health (DOH) provides HIV/AIDS patients with free maintenance or ARV drug treatment, which mainly stops the multiplication of the infected person’s viral load.

In some countries, the use of antiretroviral drugs has helped effectively lower the incidence of HIV infection to about one percent and eventually stabilized the detected cases.

The Social Hygiene Clinic is one of the satellite treatment facilities in Region 12 accredited by the DOH.

“A patient who undergoes ARV treatment becomes virally-suppressed so they can no longer infect other people,” Lastimoso said.

CHO records showed that the city’s HIV cases already reached nearly 600 but Lastimoso believes there are many persons who are living with HIV in the area who remained untested.

“The goal of the government is to look for these HIV-positive individuals and subject them to ARV treatment. That way, we can stop the spread of the disease, especially among young people,” she added. PNA-northboundasia.com