GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 12 Sept) – Three more professionals here have tested positive of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), bringing the disease incidence in the area to 150.
Dr. Mely Lastimoso, coordinator of the City Health Office’s (CHO) Social Hygiene Clinic, said Friday the three new cases were found among several local residents who recently volunteered to undergo screening for the virus, which causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
She said the results of the confirmatory tests were released last week by the Department of Health’s (DOH) Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STD)/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory in Manila.
Aside from the three new positive cases, she said they sent another sample last week for confirmatory tests after turning out “reactive” for the virus based on their initial screening.
As of December last year, the CHO already documented a total of 129 seropositive cases of HIV in the city.
The area’s HIV/AIDS cases, which were detected through screened blood serum, involve 99 males and 30 females.
A total of 29 persons with AIDS – comprising 7 females and 22 males – have already succumbed in the last three years to various complications caused by the disease.
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 urged residents, especially those who are considered vulnerable for the disease, to avail of their office’s free HIV screening program so they could immediately get proper treatment if they turn up positive.
“Bottomline is, everybody who does sex are now considered vulnerable for HIV,” she said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.
Lastimoso said the early detection of HIV is very important so victims could immediately avail of the national government’s care and support programs as well as free treatment.
“There are cases wherein the disease will be asymptomatic for quite some time. So part of our program is engaging in interpersonal communication for people who refuse to access treatment,” she said.
Lastimoso said the DOH provides HIV patients with maintenance or antiretroviral 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, she said the use of antiretroviral drugs has helped effectively lower the incidence of HIV infection to about one percent and eventually stabilized the detected cases.