GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 20 Oct) – Two more residents here have tested positive of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), bringing the total disease incidence in the area to 161.
Dr. Mely Lastimoso, coordinator of the City Health Office’s (CHO) Social Hygiene Clinic, said the new cases involved professionals who availed of their free HIV screening program in the last two weeks.
She said the samples taken from the two residents during the initial screening turned out reactive or positive of HIV, which causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
CHO immediately submitted the samples to the Department of Health’s (DOH) Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STD)/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) in Manila for confirmatory tests, she said.
Lastimoso noted that their office has been receiving numerous inquiries about the disease and requests for screening from local residents, especially among professionals.
She said a number of those who availed of the free HIV screening were residents who have had multiple partners and engaged in unprotected sex.
Some have current and past relationships with foreign nationals who might have had multiple partners, she said.
But Lastimoso said their campaign for HIV screening is not only focused on particular sectors but all residents in general.
“We want everyone to take the test so they can properly determine their HIV status,” she said in an interview with a local television station.
She also urged professionals from the area who are planning to go abroad to take HIV screening or tests first.
She cited that while there is still no established cure for HIV and AIDS, infected persons could avail of maintenance or antiretroviral treatment that is given for free by the DOH.
Antiretroviral drug treatment 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.
“It may prolong a victim’s life, they may live with their families and lead normal lives,” Lastimoso said in an interview over TV Patrol Socksargen.
Aside from antiretroviral treatment, those who avail of the HIV screening also undergo counseling sessions from experts.
Earlier this month, the CHO confirmed 9 new cases of HIV in the city that mainly involved professionals, mostly males.
In early September, CHO confirmed three new cases of HIV that then brought the disease incidence in the area to 150.
Most of the confirmed HIV/AIDS cases in the city were found among male professionals in the 22 to 25 age bracket who have risky sexual behaviors.
They include gays, bisexuals, men who have sex with men (MSMs) and others who engage in unprotected sex and with multiple partners.