SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/04 November) – Twenty-eight persons tested positive of Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Caraga Region during the first eight months of this year, according to the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH).
Based on a report obtained Friday from DOH-Caraga’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, all of the 28 individuals are males.
Eleven of them are from Agusan del Norte, six from Agusan del Sur, six from Surigao del Sur, four from Surigao del Norte, and one is from Dinagat province, the report said.
The number of people that tested positive of HIV last year reached 31.
Since 2010, the number of people infected by the disease in the region has reached at least 116.
Jessica L. Nepomuceno, program coordinator of the Sexually Transmitted Infections /HIV/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) program of the Surigao City Health Office said the 28 individuals underwent voluntary testing.
She said there could still be unreported HIV cases as testing is not mandatory, and people could be reluctant to undergo testing owing to the stigma associated with such disease.
Article III, Section 16 of Republic Act 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 prohibits compulsory HIV testing and “is deemed unlawful” if forced.
“This is actually one of the setbacks since we really can’t force anyone to undertake HIV testing,” Nepomuceno said. (MindaNews)