GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 January)– Three more residents here have tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), with local health authorities noting that such development “could be an indication that their campaign against the disease has been gaining ground.”
Dr. MelyLastimoso, coordinator of the City Integrated Health Services Office’s (CIHSO) Social Hygiene Clinic, said Friday the new cases were detected in the last three weeks from local residents who have signed up with their ongoing voluntary HIV testing program.
She said they immediately sent the results of the initial HIV screening, which were conducted by their office, to the Department of Health in Manila for confirmatory testing.
“We’re currently detecting a positive case almost every week and that’s a good sign because it means the program is really working,” Lastimoso said.
At the end of 2012, CIHSO records showed that the city’s confirmed cases of HIV — the disease that causes the deadly Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) — have already reached 55.
Last year alone, a total of 27 HIV cases were confirmed by the CIHSO through its free screening or testing program.
Lastimoso earlier said 15 of the area’s HIV cases have already developed into “full-blown AIDS,” while eight patients have died due to the disease’s complications.
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.
Lastimoso said they will further intensify their campaign for voluntary HIV testing this year in a bid to detect more suspected infections.
“If we can find all these HIV cases and subject the patients to treatment, we might eventually stop the HIV transmission or infection here,” she said.
Lastimoso reiterated that HIV patients may avail of antiretroviral drugs, which are being offered free by the DOH, for treatment.
In some countries, she said the use of antiretroviral drugs has effectively helped lower the incidence of HIV infection to about one percent, and eventually stabilized the detected cases.
The CIHSO earlier stepped up its campaign for voluntary HIV testing among residents as part of their efforts to help curb the spread of the disease.
The city government has been offering HIV/AIDS screening, which are done for free and strictly confidential, through the social hygiene clinic.
The screened blood samples are then sent to the Department of Health’s (DOH) STD (sexually-transmitted diseases)/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory in Manila for confirmatory tests. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)