GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 August) — Health personnel in South Cotabato province have recorded six more confirmed deaths in the area this year due to disease complications caused by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
John Codilla, focal person for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/AIDS of the South Cotabato of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Friday the fatalities were among the 45 new cases that were detected in the province since January.
He said four of the deaths were recorded from January to May while the two others happened this month.
The IPHO recorded a total of nine HIV/AIDS-related deaths as of the end of 2015.
“All these cases were due to late diagnosis. Most of them were already suffering from late stages of AIDS when they decided to avail of our services,” said Codilla, who is also in-charge of the IPHO’s HIV/AIDS treatment hub.
He said that due to the late diagnosis, the access of the patients to antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment was also delayed.
The victims, who were all males, died while being treated for AIDS-related diseases in various hospitals in the province, he said.
Codilla said the disease complications include meningitis, cytomegalovirus infection, tuberculosis and high risk pneumonia.
As of Friday, he said the total number of confirmed or documented HIV/AIDS cases in the province has already reached 415.
Of the 45 cases detected this year, he said 33 were asymptomatic while the remaining 12 were already in the AIDS stage. All victims were all males.
Most of the victims were aged 24 to 34 years-old, with the youngest at 16 years-old and the oldest at 58 years-old.
Codilla said 14 of the cases involve college students while about 3 percent were former and active overseas workers.
In terms of treatment, he said 158 of the victims are currently availing of the services of the IPHO’s treatment hub, which is dubbed HIV-AIDS Core Team Clinic.
He said they are currently reaching out to the 34 other victims for the immediate availment of the ARV treatment.
ARV 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.
The clinic, which is situated at the South Cotabato provincial hospital, was earlier accredited by the Department of Health as the first HIV/AIDS treatment hub in Region 12.
It is also considered as the first-ever disease treatment hub in the country that is funded and operated by a local government unit.
Codilla said a total of 253 victims have already sought treatment at the clinic since it opened on June 6.
Three of their clients, some of whom came from as far as Manila and Cebu, were females while the rest were males, he added. (MindaNews)