Beware: 9 more tested positive for HIV in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/ 21 September)—Health personnel here have confirmed nine new positive cases of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV in the last three months, bringing the total infection to 41 since the last two years.

Dr. Mely Lastimoso, coordinator of the City Integrated Health Services Office’s (CIHSO) Social Hygiene Clinic, said the additional cases of HIV — the disease that causes the deadly Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS — were affirmed based on the latest results of the confirmatory tests released by the Department of Health (DOH) central office.

“Most of these new cases involved professionals and not one came from the entertainment sector,” she said in an interview with a local television station.

Lastimoso said that of the 41 confirmed HIV cases in the city, 15 have already developed into full-blown AIDS.

In late June, the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the city only totaled 32 and with only two new cases recorded by the CIHSO then.

From May 2011 until last June, the confirmed HIV/AIDS cases in the city only increased by four, with the two other cases detected last April.

The CIHSO noted that most of the new HIV/AIDS cases found in the area in the last two years involved gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men or MSM.

Lastimoso said the increase in HIV/AIDS cases in the city these past years could be attributed to the increasing number of persons who have “risky sexual behavior,” which includes having multiple sexual partners and engagement in unprotected sex.

She said they are currently focusing their campaign against HIV/AIDS among the professionals, especially the males, due to the rising rate of infection among them these past several years.

Lastimoso said proper awareness and education on HIV/AIDS remain vital in curbing the problem as what had been the experience with the local entertainment industry.

“Our sustained education programs with our entertainers are now yielding positive results since no new HIV/AIDS cases so far came out among them,” she said.

The official said the city government continues to offer “free, confidential” screening for HIV/AIDS through the Social Hygiene Clinic, which is based at the CIHSO building inside the city district hospital.

She said the clinic immediately submits the screened samples to the DOH’s STD (sexually-transmitted diseases)/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory in Manila.

“We can only stop the spread of HIV by knowing our own HIV status. This is very important because the government could allot funds for the purchase of maintenance treatments for those who would be found positive,” Lastimoso added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)