Upward trend in HIV cases noted in Bicol

Upward trend in HIV cases noted in Bicol

NAGA CITY – A health executive here has noted that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases continue to show an upward trend in Bicol, and encouraged those in vulnerable sectors to undergo testing.

In an interview on Wednesday, Grace Guevara, Medical Technologist II, who performs HIV tests at Naga’s HIV Testing Center, said: “HIV may not be at the top of the mind. But everyone has to ensure that they got the needed services most of the time like the test to see to it that they are free from HIV. The current pandemic has not stopped it”.

In 2020, the center recorded 40 individuals who were tested positive for HIV. The figure, however, does not only include patients living in Naga City as the center also accommodates referrals from other local government units (LGUs) and conducts tests on individuals coming from different places in the Bicol Region.

From January to March, the testing center already recorded 14 new cases of HIV.

Guevara said “out of that number, eight were from different towns but are working in private offices and establishments in the city”.

The four ways how HIV is transmitted, she said, are unsafe or unprotected sex, exposure to infected blood and blood products, mother-to-child transmission, and men having sex with men or MSM.

Guevara called on MSMs and individuals with multiple sex partners to be responsible enough by voluntarily submitting themselves to HIV tests.

“But undergoing a regular HIV test does not mean that you will be spared from getting the virus,” she said. “In 2020, I knew of persons who religiously underwent regular HIV tests but, at the later part of the year, they were found out to be HIV positive.”

Guevara stressed that unprotected sex must be avoided through the use of condoms or by abstinence.  Jason Neola / PNA – northboundasia.com