GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 21 July) – The city government has recorded seven confirmed deaths in the last six months due to disease complications caused by 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 the fatalities were among the patients from the area who were diagnosed with “full-blown” or late stages of AIDS since last year.
She said the patients were not be able to undergo antiretroviral or (ARV) drug treatment as it was already too late when they were diagnosed with the disease.
“These are patients who only sought treatment when they were already suffering from a number of opportunistic infections. They did not undergo prior tests for diagnosis and their infections were only detected when they were brought to our hospitals,” she said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.
Lastimoso said the latest case was a 27-year-old male who was initially diagnosed with the disease in Davao City last year.
She said the patient did not avail of the ARV treatment and later submitted himself to another screening here when his condition worsened.
The official said the patient might have thought that a different result could emerge if the test is conducted in another area.
But she explained that the confirmation of all samples screened by private and government testing centers in the country are done by the Department of Health’s (DOH) Sexually-Transmitted Diseases/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory in Manila.
“His condition was again confirmed but by then it was already too late,” Lastimoso said.
She said the patient’s life could have been prolonged if he immediately availed of ARV treatment upon the initial diagnosis.
The DOH provides HIV/AIDS patients with free maintenance or ARV drug treatment, which mainly stops the multiplication of the infected person’s viral load and eventually prevents them from further spreading the disease.
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.
As of June, the CHO said the number of confirmed HIV/AIDS cases in the city has already reached 361.
Most of the confirmed HIV/AIDS cases in the city were found among male professionals in the 22 to 25 age bracket who were engaged in “risky sexual behaviors.”
They include gays, bisexuals, men who have sex with men or MSMs, and others who engage in unprotected sex and with multiple partners.